COVID-19

Coronavirus Live Support

We’ve created this live blog to update you with useful and relevant insights into the latest developments surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic. If you need any further support, please contact a member of the Hallidays team on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

Read our coronavirus FAQ

04/06/2020

Business Continuity – are you prepared?

According to a report by smallbusiness.co.uk, just 27 per cent of small businesses have a business continuity plan (BCP) in place, and of those 73 per cent said they hadn’t tested it in the last 12 months. And yet, tweaking and testing business continuity plans on a regular basis is critical. Many business owners believe business continuity planning is a costly and difficult exercise – but it doesn’t need to be either of those.

The easiest way to go about creating a BCP is to determine potential disruptors to your business, then create plans to ensure services and operations are impacted minimally. Implementing and detailing procedures around this means that you are protecting your business if the unexpected were to happen.

Some of the potential disruptors could include fire, flooding, internet or hardware failure and cyberattack. And when assessing these disruptors, some of the key business issues you may need to focus on include remote access to systems, employee communication, GDPR compliance and access to backed-up or important documents (such as insurance details).

Of course, there are also many factors that need to be considered outside of these, including customer service, cybersecurity and insurance. These are important to think about when creating your BCP. Ensuring you cover all bases means that there are no nasty surprises lurking if you do need to implement your plan.

Many small businesses don’t think they need a BCP, but in reality, it’s important for any size business. As a small business, you are one of those most affected by downtime, and without the required planning, insolvency is a real risk after a major crisis.

Thinking of the recent COVID-19 lockdown, were you prepared? Did your customers notice any change in their service? Did your insurance cover you? Were you sending confidential documents with the ease of mind that there was no way they could be intercepted by cybercriminals? Did you know what to look out for if cybercriminals were trying to target your business at home?

https://www.the2020group.com/business-continuity-are-you-prepared/

How to treat certain expenses and benefits provided to employees during coronavirus

Find out about taxable expenses and benefits when they are paid to employees because of coronavirus and how to report them to HMRC.

This guidance is about Income Tax treatment only. National Insurance contributions treatment may vary depending on the individual benefit or expense.

Living accommodation

If your employee is working at a permanent workplace

If you’re providing living accommodation for an employee working at a permanent workplace because of coronavirus, the cost will be taxable.

If an exemption applies, for example, if your employee is a warden of a sheltered housing scheme and is living at the premises, where they are on call outside normal working hours, there will be no tax charge.

If your employee is working at a temporary workplace (for less than 24 months)

Tax relief is available for your employees who are provided with living accommodation when working at a temporary workplace because of coronavirus.

You should report the cost of providing the accommodation on a P11D as normal, even if the value of the benefit is nil.

Lodging expenses

If your employee cannot return home because of coronavirus you may agree to reimburse their subsistence expenses and lodging expenses, for example if they stay in a hotel room.

These are taxable and can be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

Volunteer fuel and mileage costs

To support volunteer work by your employees, you may agree to refund fuel costs or fund the costs of volunteer mileage.

Employees using company cars

You may agree to refund the fuel costs (using the Advisory Fuel Rates) of your employees carrying out volunteer work related to coronavirus, for example, delivering medical supplies including PPE.

These refunds are a benefit and you may settle any tax and National Insurance contributions on your employee’s behalf by reporting through a PAYE Settlement Agreement.

You may also agree to fund the cost of fuel for volunteer mileage related to coronavirus. Volunteer mileage should not be taken into account for the purposes of the car fuel benefit charge for company cars.

Any tax and National Insurance contributions due should be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement as a coronavirus related benefit based on the appropriate advisory fuel rate for the volunteer mileage.

Employees using private cars

If your employee uses their own car to volunteer you can refund them up to the level of the approved mileage allowance rate. This is taxable and should be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement as a coronavirus related benefit.

If you pay your employee less than the approved mileage allowance rate they cannot claim mileage allowance relief.

Paying or refunding transport costs

If you pay or refund your employee the cost of transport from work to home, this is considered to be a benefit. This is because journeys between an employee’s workplace and home are private journeys.

In some circumstances there is an exemption from paying tax on this benefit. For this to happen, all of the following 4 conditions must be met:

  • the employee has to work later than usual, and until at least 9pm
  • this happens irregularly
  • by the time the employee finishes work, either:
    • public transport has stopped
    • it would not be reasonable to expect them to to use public transport
  • the transport is by taxi or similar road transport

Your employees may regularly travel to work in a car with one or more other employees using a car-sharing arrangement. If this arrangement stops because of unforeseen and exceptional circumstances, which are coronavirus related, and you provide transport or reimbursement of the expense of transport from your employee’s home to workplace, this may also be exempt.

The total number of exempt journeys cannot exceed 60 journeys in a tax year. This is a single limit that applies to the late-night journeys and the failure of any car-sharing arrangement, together.

If these requirements are not met, free or subsidised transport is taxable and should be reported through a PAYE Settlement Agreement as a coronavirus related benefit.

Free or subsidised meals

You do not have to report anything to HMRC or pay tax and National Insurance if you offer all your employees:

  • free or subsidised meals of a reasonable value at a workplace canteen
  • vouchers that cover the cost of buying these meals

Free or subsidised meals that are not exempt

This includes meals that are:

  • not on a reasonable scale, for example elaborate meals with fine wines
  • provided off-site but not at a canteen, for example at a restaurant
  • not available to all staff, for example meals for directors only
  • provided under salary sacrifice or flexible remuneration arrangements (also known as ‘flexible benefit plans’)

If you provide your employees with vouchers for meals outside the workplace find out how to report this to HMRC.

If you provide other vouchers, cash allowances or employee accounts, this counts as earnings, for example:

  • vouchers that can be exchanged for either food or cash
  • cash allowances for meals
  • top-up payments to an employee’s account for workplace food and drink using a card or PIN system

For these costs, you must:

  • add the amount to your employee’s other earnings
  • deduct and pay PAYE tax and Class 1 National Insurance through payroll

If the meals or vouchers you provide are not exempt, you need to report them to HMRC and deduct and pay tax and National Insurance on the costs.

Company car ‘availability’

Your employee may have been furloughed or is working from home, because of coronavirus, and provided with a company car which they still have. You should treat the car as being made ‘available for private use’ during this period even if your employee is:

  • instructed to not use the car
  • asked to take and keep a photographic image of the mileage both before and after a period of furlough
  • unable to physically to return the car or the car cannot be collected from the employee

Where restrictions on movement applies because of coronavirus and prevents the car from being handed back or collected, HMRC will accept that a company car is unavailable in the following circumstances:

  • where the contract has terminated - from the date that the car keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or to a third party as instructed by the employer
  • where the contract has not been terminated – after 30 consecutive days from the date that the car keys (including tabs or fobs) are returned to the employer or to a third party as instructed by the employer

The return of keys means that a car cannot be driven in any circumstances even if it is still in the possession of your employee.

We also recognise that following relaxation of coronavirus restrictions, it may take some time to collect cars where contracts have been terminated. As long as your employee continues to have no access to the keys until the car is collected from them, HMRC will still regard the car as being unavailable.

Employee Car Ownership Schemes (ECOS)

Employees who have used ECOS arrangements, including a loan from a third party to purchase a car, may have to return the car at the end of the loan period for its value to be assessed as a final settlement of the loan.

Due to coronavirus restrictions, if your employee has not been able to return the car to the dealership or factory for its assessment, there may be an income tax charge on the amount of the loan still owing.

If the loan period was less than 4 years, it may be possible for your employee to arrange an extension with the loan provider for a few more months. This will cover the period until the car can be returned and the loan settled. If this is done, HMRC will accept that the arrangements do not give rise to the Income Tax charge. If however, the loan is extended beyond 4 years, an Income Tax charge will arise.

Salary sacrifice

Changes in circumstances because of coronavirus are accepted as a lifestyle change which allows salary sacrifice arrangements to be reviewed. If your employee chooses to amend a salary sacrifice arrangement because of coronavirus, you must make sure the change is reflected in the terms and conditions of their employment.

The rules on salary sacrifice changed in April 2017 and for most arrangements entered into before 6 April 2017, these new benefit valuation rules now apply.

The transitional rules apply for a longer period where the benefit is:

  • the provision of a car with emissions of more than 75g CO2/km
  • provided living accommodation
  • the payment of school fees

The new rules will not apply to these types of benefits until 6 April 2021, unless employees vary or renew their arrangements.

An arrangement is not regarded as being varied if the variation of the arrangement is only directly in connection with coronavirus.

Employer provided loans

A salary advance or loan to help your employee at a time of hardship counts as an employment-related loan. Loans provided with a value less than £10,000 in a tax year are non-taxable.

Further guidance on loans provided to employees.

Employees working from home

Check which expenses are taxable if your employee works from home because of coronavirus.

How to report to HMRC

Any expenses or benefits which are related to coronavirus can be reported on your PAYE Settlement Agreement.

If you are currently payrolling benefits in kind, you may continue to report expenses and benefits through your payroll as long as you’ve registered with HMRC before the start of the tax year (6 April). You may also continue to report expenses and benefits through P11D returns.

HMRC expects all P11D and P11D(b) returns to be completed online by 6 July 2020 for the tax year 2019-20, paper options are available for employers unable to file online.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-to-treat-certain-expenses-and-benefits-provided-to-employees-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Personal liability - Warning for company directors over ‘bounce back’ loans

Small firms have borrowed more than £14bn under the scheme since it was launched on 4 May 2020.

Businesses can borrow up to 25% of their turnover up to a maximum of £50,000. The loans are interest free for the first twelve months and are underwritten by the UK Government.

Company directors don’t need to provide a personal guarantee and the loans should be used to help firms to survive. However, some company directors have considered using the scheme to repay themselves or personal debts.

There is a false assumption that if the company is unable to recover from the impact of Covid-19 and subsequently enters into a formal insolvency process, then responsibility for repaying the loan will remain solely with the company and liability would not be transferred to directors.

However, this will not be the case if directors have acted improperly and breached their fiduciary duties or abused the loan scheme. While wrongful trading provisions have been temporarily suspended in response to the Covid-19 outbreak, other provisions of the Insolvency Act and Companies Act remain in full force and operation.

Directors need to be mindful of potential misconduct and the issue of ‘preference payments’. Bounce back loans can be used to refinance existing liabilities, but great caution needs to be exercised.

A typical scenario is where company debt includes some that is personally guaranteed or personally owed to directors or their associates. If a director chooses to only repay pay debts with a personal link, leaving unsecured creditors unpaid, this would be an act of misfeasance through the making of a preference. An appointed licenced insolvency practitioner would challenge this and it could lead to personal liability for repayment.

If company directors intend to use bounce back loans to repay existing debt, they should remove the risk of inadvertently falling foul of the rules surrounding preference payments. Getting professional advice now adds a layer of protection in the unfortunate event the company subsequently becomes insolvent.

https://resource-centre.co.uk/72/2311/may-2020/covid-19-personal-liability-warning-for-company-directors-over--bounce-back--loans---north-west.asp

Coronavirus support from Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations

The government is working closely with Business Representative Organisations and Trade Associations to support the national response to coronavirus.

Below is a list of organisations you can speak with to get advice. Many of these organisations are also happy to respond to non-member queries related to coronavirus.

Many of these websites also include sector-specific guidance and Q&A. This list does not cover all trade associations and business representatives.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-support-from-business-representative-organisations-and-trade-associations

Trade Credit Insurance backed by £10 billion guarantee

Trade Credit Insurance, which provides essential cover to hundreds of thousands of business-to-business transactions, will receive up to £10 billion of government guarantees, ministers announced today.

The Trade Credit Reinsurance scheme, which has been agreed following extensive discussions with the insurance sector, will see the vast majority of Trade Credit Insurance coverage maintained across the UK.

The guarantees will support supply chains and help businesses during the coronavirus pandemic to trade with confidence, safe in the knowledge that they will be protected if a customer defaults or delays on payment.

Business Secretary of State Alok Sharma said:

Trade Credit Insurance is a daily necessity for hundreds of thousands of businesses across the UK – particularly those in non-service sectors such as the manufacturing and construction sectors.

Our £10 billion guarantee gives peace of mind to businesses, allowing them to continue to trade and maintaining liquidity in supply chains. This reinsurance scheme is an important step as we carefully set about firing up our economy as we emerge from the pandemic.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said:

Billions of pounds of business turnover is supported by Trade Credit Insurance each year. This reinsurance scheme will see the government and insurers working closely together to ensure that the vast majority of this cover remains in place. This means that businesses and supply chains can continue to be protected at this pivotal time as we begin to kick start the economy.

BCC Director General Adam Marshall said:

The government has demonstrated once again that it is listening to the concerns of our business communities.

The launch of a government-backed guarantee to support the provision of trade credit insurance will help ensure that this vital lifeline remains available to businesses during and after this crisis, helping to maintain supply chains and trade.

Stephen Phipson, CEO of Make UK, said:

For most manufacturers, credit insurance is essential – giving them certainty that they will be paid for the orders they deliver. We’re pleased that the government has taken action to jump-start the credit insurance market – which will provide a welcome boost to our nation’s makers as they recover from the COVID crisis.

IoD Head of Europe and Trade Policy Allie Renison said:

These measures are a lifeline for many businesses with nowhere else to turn. To help the economy get up and running again, maintaining confidence in supply chains is crucial, and we are encouraged to see this come as the product of collaboration between government and industry.

CBI Director of Financial Services, Flora Hamilton said:

The new government guarantee to backstop trade credit insurance will be welcome by businesses across the UK. The TCI scheme will support supply chains, enable many to prepare for restart in earnest and bring employees off the job retention scheme and back into work.

This is a very critical step, along with other government financial support, in driving the recovery of the UK.

The scheme is available on a temporary basis for nine months, backdated to 1 April 2020, and running until 31 December 2020, with the potential for extension if required.

The scheme will be followed by a joint BEIS/HMT-led review of the Trade Credit Insurance market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/trade-credit-insurance-backed-by-10-billion-guarantee


02/06/2020

Self-employed get second grant from government

Chancellor Rishi Sunak has said self-employed workers across the UK will be able to access a second Grant from the government to cover lost income while the country is in lockdown.

The grants paid out by the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme (SEISS) will be worth 70% of a self-employed person's average monthly trading profits to cover three months' worth of income.

They will be capped at £6,570.

The scheme so far has been used by 2.6 million people and has paid out £6.8bn in claims to self-employed who have been affected by the impact of coronavirus on the economy.

This is the second and final time grants will be offered, the chancellor said.

The Government offered the first grant to the self-employed in March, paying 80% of average monthly trading profits, capped at £7,500.

No announcement or Grant was made at the Daily press conference regarding Company Directors and those who became self-employed after April 2019.

Changes to Furlough

On Friday 29th May 2020, Rishi Sunak announced the changes that would be made to furlough leave and the CJRS (Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme). He explained that as from 1st July, there would be a more flexible approach to furlough, to allow for part-time work whilst still benefiting from the scheme.

So, what are the changes to the furlough scheme?

June

From the 1st July, employers will only be able to claim for employees who have been on the furlough scheme for a minimum of 3 weeks previously. This means that, from the 10th June, the scheme will be effectively be closed to employees being furloughed for the first time. Therefore, if you want to take advantage of the scheme going forward, then you will need to furlough any new entrants by this date.

In June, employers will be able to continue claiming 80% of salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month – including NI and pension contributions.

July

On 1st July, ‘flexible furlough’ comes into play. Employees who are on furlough now have the ability to return to work on a part-time basis. Any amount of working time or shift pattern can be agreed.

Employees will still receive 80% of their salary up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month. However, employers will need to pay for any hours worked and NI and pension contributions associated with these hours. However, you can claim for hours not worked, up to a maximum of 80% of their salary or £2,500 (gross) per month.

August

From 1st August, the employer is responsible for paying ALL NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked. The rest of the scheme remains the same as July.

September

From 1st September, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 70%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 70% of salary or a maximum of £2,187.50 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 10% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

October

From 1st October, the employee will still receive 80% of salary, up to a maximum of £2,500 (gross) per month, however, the government contribution will be a maximum of 60%. 

This means that the maximum amount an employer can claim via the CJRS is 60% of salary or a maximum of £1,875 (gross) per month.

Employers are expected to pay the additional 20% and all NI and pension contributions for hours worked and not worked (up to 80% or a maximum of £2,500 gross per month).

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

Redundancies during Furlough

Following the recent government announcements, you will no doubt be starting to think about what your business might look like after lock-down and how you might operate and survive in the future months.

Although it is not pleasant, you may need to consider making some redundancies. As such, we have put together some frequently asked questions, please see below.

At what stage can you start a redundancy process when someone is on furlough leave? Do you have to end their furlough first?

You can start a redundancy process at any stage, including the period when employees are on furlough. Furlough does not have to be ended before starting the redundancy process.

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is designed to minimise redundancies, but employers can still make staff redundant during or after furlough. The redundancy process can be commenced at any time provided the correct procedures and consultations are followed.

Will it be unfair if I make an employee redundant rather than placing them on furlough leave?

If the redundancy is solely proposed because of the current situation regarding the Coronavirus, then it is likely to be unfair to not at least thoroughly consider the possibility of furlough rather than making an employee redundant, since such action would potentially be deemed unreasonable in the circumstances. Employees can claim unfair dismissal if they have two or more years’ service.

However, if a redundancy consultation process was ongoing prior to the onset of the Coronavirus crisis, and/or the situation is not affected by the Coronavirus, it is very likely that it will still be possible to fairly dismiss an employee for redundancy, notwithstanding the availability of the scheme.

Instead of making redundancies, can I reduce employee salaries, and change or remove other benefits they receive?

A reduction in pay, change in pay or other terms and conditions, constitutes a change to terms and conditions and therefore consultation should be carried out. 

If an employee doesn’t agree to a change in their salary, and you do go ahead and make the deduction in their pay, you could be at risk of unlawful deduction from wages claims. There is no qualifying period, so it is a day one right. 

However, they may be willing to make these changes on a temporary basis as an alternative to redundancy.

For redundancy consultation do normal timelines apply or is this a special case?

The government has confirmed that the Coronavirus pandemic is unlikely to qualify as a ‘special circumstance’, therefore all current employment law obligations still stand. As such, if redundancies are unavoidable, the safest approach is to follow normal redundancy procedures, consultation and timelines.

Do I need to collectively consult with my employees?

Collective consultation is required if you intend to make 20 or more employees redundant at one establishment within a 90-day period.

If you do, then there is an obligation to follow the government guidelines around collective consultation and the designated timelines are as follows:

  • 20 – 99 redundancies proposed = minimum 30-day consultation period.
  • 100+ redundancies proposed = minimum 45-day consultation period.

The collective consultation should be completed before any notices of termination of employment are served. Failure to consult collectively could result in being instructed to pay additional payments to each individual affected. These are called ‘protective awards’ and could be up to 90 days’ extra pay each.

If you intend to make 19 or less employees redundant, then there are no set timescales around consultation and the redundancy process. The guidance states that this should be a ‘reasonable’ amount of time to allow effective consultation and to follow the redundancy process. Depending on the circumstances, this can be as little as a week (potentially less for someone with short service).

If I need to consult with my employees whilst they are furloughed, how do I do this?

Redundancy consultation does not class as work and therefore employees on furlough can engage in a consultation process without it affecting their furlough leave, or your claim.

Consultation meetings can be held virtually via Skype or Zoom if necessary (provided employees have and can use the requisite technology).

What is redundancy and notice pay calculated on, if an employee has been furloughed?

Redundancy and notice pay should be based on normal contractual pay and not the amount received if they have been furloughed.

What happens to the employees notice period if they are kept on the furlough scheme?

You can keep an employee on furlough (and claim from the CJRS) whilst they ‘work’ their notice. However, you will need to top this up to full pay for the duration of their notice period. 

If you pay notice in lieu, you will not be able to claim this from the CJRS.

Redundancy payments cannot be claimed for under the scheme either.

Can I re-hire employees so that they can benefit from the furlough scheme?

Once notice has expired and an employee’s employment has ended (including entitlement to benefits and holidays), you could choose to re-engage them for the sole purpose of placing them back on furlough and enabling them to claim the furlough allowance from the government. 

The employee’s employment end date would remain the same, but they would not have continuous service, nor would they be entitled to any benefits/accrual of holidays. It is strongly advised that an agreement of this nature is made explicit in a signed agreement with the ex-employee.

Since employees have been furloughed, some of the requirements of the roles have changed. Can I change the role when the employee returns to work?

If the requirements of the role have significantly changed it could constitute a redundancy situation, which would require you to consult and follow the normal redundancy procedures.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.

The power of collaboration post-COVID

We’ve entered unprecedented territory in recent weeks, and though the end is not yet in sight, we’ve already learned some heart-warming lessons about what the manufacturing sector can achieve when working together.

No manufacturer has been left untouched by the COVID-19 pandemic, whether it’s a collapse in demand for some, skyrocketing demand for others, supply chain disruption or responding to social distancing requirements. Businesses have been driven by necessity to co-operate in new and creative ways, to remarkable effect. The way the manufacturing community has come together so rapidly to produce critical supplies for the NHS shows we can achieve extraordinary things through collaboration. 

Once the dust settles, we’ll be able to look back on this experience as proof that collaboration is a powerful tool that will help us navigate through other shared challenges like changing consumer behaviour, EU exit or the looming climate crisis. The benefits of exchanging information, networks and expertise with peers can include not only new commercial opportunities but also lower costs, improved corporate reputation and increased resilience. Lots of companies will come out of the current crisis with a much closer customer and supplier relationships, which will put them in good stead for the future.

“Networking and seeking local and international companies with core competencies to partner with is vital. I have enjoyed the past few weeks working from home researching, networking and developing opportunities for when lockdown is over. All businesses have learnt a lot about themselves.”

Richard Hagan, Director of Rochdale manufacturer Crystal Doors

Here are just a few examples of scenarios where collaboration can be beneficial:

  1. Sharing best practice

Over the last few years, I have been working with a small group of companies who all supply into the automotive sector. They aren’t direct competitors, so we facilitated a meeting so that they could share expertise, visit each other’s factories and learn from each other’s experience. As any MD of a small manufacturer will tell you, it can be a lonely job, so any opportunity to learn from others in your industry should be grabbed with both hands.

  1. Sharing assets and materials

Most manufacturers live on large industrial estates but, despite the huge diversity of activity on their doorstep, they often have little contact with their neighbours. At the very least, this is a missed opportunity to reduce costs by sharing useful assets such as machinery or warehouse capacity. I’ve seen a great example of this on an estate in Horwich, where a company offers its forklift truck ramp as a rentable shared asset across the estate.

Neighbours can even find new uses for each other’s waste material. In Trafford Park for example, rejected cornflakes from Kellogg’s are being used as a raw ingredient by nearby brewery Seven Bro7hers. There’s something we can all drink to!

  1. Micro networks

There are also good examples of companies working together for common advantage, for example in negotiations with landlords or the pooling of resources to expand into new markets. In one example I know of, a group of neighbouring companies, who had recognised a synergy between them, established an informal arrangement to submit joint bids for contracts that they wouldn’t otherwise have been able to tender for.

We are currently developing several micro networks to help businesses with non-competitive similarities find solutions and opportunities during the Coronavirus crisis. Each network brings together a small number of manufacturers, who meet via Zoom to discuss their most pressing challenges and share learning.

  1. Buyers’ consortia

A slightly more formal approach to collaboration is using the power of collective bargaining to bring down prices on materials, products or utilities. A good local example is Greater Manchester Solar Together – a group-buying scheme set up by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority to help homeowners and businesses purchase solar panels at a more competitive price.

  1. Knowledge transfer

Formal arrangements to access specialist skills or R&D expertise, such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs), are one of the more obvious examples of collaboration between organisations. GC Business Growth Hub’s partnership with Greater Manchester’s four universities and help with Innovation Vouchers makes us a great portal for these opportunities. For example, we’ve helped Trafford-based M&I Materials team up with scientists at Manchester Metropolitan University to provide new analytical insight into the ceramic disks they manufacture. In Rochdale, we helped GJD Manufacturing secure grant funding for a KTP to develop new technology with the same university. More recently we also connected MMU’s PrintCity with Merc Aerospace. Working in partnership with the Hub’s Innovation team, we arranged for the transfer of 3D object File and 3D Printer Settings to enable Merc to manufacture 3D printed face shield main head band mask components. As a result, vital mask components were delivered to the NHS within days.

The rise of digital technology and servitisation in modern manufacturing makes knowledge transfer all the more important. It can be hard to know how to get started with digitalisation or service innovation on your own, so build relationships with market disruptors and niche experts. One way to do this is to join Made Smarter, which offers student placements to bring the latest digital skills and insight into your business. You don’t necessarily need to take the academic route though – knowledge transfer can be B2B as well.

Become a better leader

As well as opening up new commercial opportunities, collaboration can also make you a better leader. When we bring SMEs together at roundtables, they’re always surprised by how much they end up learning from each other. No matter what your dilemma is, the chances are someone else has already been through it, so surrounding yourself with peers who can speak from experience is invaluable.

For a more private, one-to-one collaborative relationship with a successful business leader, our Mentoring for Growth programme can open the door to some of the most successful manufacturers in the North West – including Siemens, BAE Systems and GSK.

Nurture your network

Of course, collaboration isn’t straightforward. It requires strong relationships, long-term co-operation and mutual trust, not to mention clear agreements on things like liability and IP. It also requires nurturing – promising early conversations can often fizzle out if lines of communications aren’t left open.

https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/manufacturing/resources/blog/2020/05/the-power-of-collaboration-post-covid

Apply for the coronavirus Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund

Small and micro businesses with fixed property costs that are not eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund or the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund may be eligible for the Discretionary Grants Scheme.

What you get

You can get a grant of £25,000, £10,000 or any amount under £10,000.

Eligibility

You’re potentially eligible if your business:

  • is based in England
  • has fewer than 50 employees
  • has fixed building costs such as rent
  • was trading on 11 March 2020
  • has been adversely impacted by the coronavirus

We’ve asked local councils to prioritise businesses such as:

  • small businesses in shared offices or other flexible workspaces, such as units in industrial parks or incubators
  • regular market traders
  • bed and breakfasts paying council tax instead of business rates
  • charity properties getting charitable business rates relief, which are not eligible for small business rates relief or rural rate relief

Local councils have discretion about how to prioritise this funding. Please check with your council for details of their scheme.

You cannot apply if your business is in administration, insolvent or has received a striking-off notice.

If you’re already claiming funding

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under another government grant scheme, such as:

  • Small Business Grant Fund
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant
  • Fisheries Response Fund
  • Domestic Seafood Supply Scheme
  • Zoos Support Fund
  • Dairy Hardship Fund

You’re still eligible if you’ve applied for the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme.

Businesses that apply for the discretionary grants scheme can still apply for coronavirus-related loans if they’re eligible.

If you already get state aid

The discretionary grants fund counts towards state aid.

Payments of £10,000 or less count towards the total de minimis state aid you’re allowed to get over a 3 year period - €200,000. If you have reached that threshold, you may still be eligible for funding under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework.

Payments of £25,000 count as state aid under the COVID-19 Temporary Framework. The limit for the framework is €800,000.

Your local council will ask you to complete a declaration confirming that:

  • you will not exceed the relevant state aid threshold
  • you were not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019. This applies only to the COVID-19 Temporary Framework

How to apply

Visit your local council’s website to find out how to apply:

Find the website for your local council.

What happens next

Your local council will run an application process and decide whether to offer you a grant.

You do not have to pay the grant back but it will be taxable. Only businesses which make an overall profit once grant income is included will be subject to tax.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-local-authority-discretionary-grants-fund

New corporate insolvency & governance bill – COVID-19 condenses 12 month process into 6 weeks

The Corporate Insolvency and Governance Bill (CIGB) was published on 20th May and is designed to help businesses in difficulty that need to restructure, to increase their chances of survival during these turbulent times.

Whilst wide-ranging reform of the insolvency legislation had been planned for some time, the unprecedented challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic forced the government to bring the timetable forward and squeeze a process that would normally take over a year into just six weeks.

The resulting 240 page Bill contains both temporary and permanent legislation that should support a culture of business rescue and restructuring during the current unusual times and beyond.

It should be noted, that given the speed with which the legislation was pulled together, the government has made it clear that it is likely to remain a work in progress with additions, amendments and corrections expected over time. Furthermore there are a number of areas where the government appears to have left it to the Courts to resolve any issues which are not made clear by the new legislation. Therefore trade creditors, landlords, lenders and directors will all need to take advice on their respective positions when operating with businesses in distress during the next few months. 

The legislation is likely to be approved at its reading in Parliament on 3rd June and, once given the green light by the House of Lords, could receive Royal assent at the end of June.

The Insolvency Service, who helped draft the legislation, have made it clear that, given the evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic and the continuing economic challenges it is throwing up, the temporary measures are almost certain to be extended beyond the summer.

We’ve summarised the key elements of the Bill below – full details can be seen here.

Permanent reforms

Company moratorium

  • Allows directors of a struggling company (some companies, such as financial services firms, are excluded) to create a protective breathing space while they attempt to put a restructuring/turnaround plan together
  • Known as a “debtor in possession” procedure, the directors remain in control, although their actions are overseen by a “monitor” who must be a licensed Insolvency Practitioner. The monitor’s role is to assess the viability of the plan as well as providing a safeguard to ensure that the directors are acting in the creditors’ interests generally
  • The moratorium lasts for 20 business days and can be extended by a further 20 by the directors or up to a year if creditors or the Court agree
  • No legal action can be taken while the moratorium is in force but costs incurred during the moratorium period have to be paid
  • Whilst it is intended to be a survival tool by giving directors control, there is no requirement to seek the prior approval of a secured creditor such as a bank or asset-based lender. The bank’s security cannot ultimately be prejudiced and they would still have the right to enforce their security should they wish after the moratorium has expired, but there may be concerns that they could be excluded from key strategic decisions

Restructuring plan

  • The new legislation allows a company in difficulty, or its creditors or members, to propose a restructuring plan, similar to the existing Scheme of Arrangement, as an alternative rescue option
  • Provided a Court approves the plan as being fair and equitable and ensures creditors are no worse off than the next best alternative then it will bind both secured and unsecured creditors (unlike a CVA), including dissenting classes of creditors and members – this is known as a cross-class cramdown
  • In this way, it is hoped companies can restructure financially and avoid insolvency

Termination / “Ipso Facto” clauses

  • New legislation has been introduced to prevent suppliers of goods and services under a contract from terminating supply or amending terms to increase prices where a company enters an insolvency or restructuring process or implements a moratorium. This is similar to the existing rules for utility companies
  • It only applies where a formal contract is in place (therefore not to ad hoc orders) and there is a current exemption for suppliers defined as small companies under the Companies Act (maximum of £10.2m turnover, £5.1m balance sheet or average of 50 employees)
  • It also excludes financial services providers such as banks
  • Supplies during the insolvency period must be paid for
  • Suppliers can apply to Court if they feel it causes them undue hardship

TEMPORARY MEASURES

As noted previously, a number of temporary measures have been brought in as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Whilst these provisions are due to run until 30th June (or one month after the Bill comes into force) it is expected, particularly in light of the recent extension of the Job Retention Scheme until October, that these measures will also be extended.

Suspension of wrongful trading liability

  • As has been widely reported, effective from 1st March to 30th June (unless extended), the wrongful trading rules have been suspended. The threat of personal liability contained within this previous legislation acted as a deterrent to directors from continuing to trade where they had no reasonable prospect of avoiding insolvency. The removal of this threat now allows them to do their best to save a company in these unprecedented times
  • It should be noted that, although the wrongful trading provisions have been temporarily removed, other similar Insolvency Act provisions covering fraudulent trading, transactions at an undervalue and preferences remain. Furthermore it does not relieve directors of a general fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of creditors, so care must still be taken. The best guidance is always to document key decisions and take independent professional advice

Statutory demands and Winding Up Petitions

  • The new law is intended to temporarily prevent aggressive creditors from using the threat of legal action to enforce payment of a debt at a time of mass financial uncertainty
  • It voids statutory demands made between 1st March and 30th June (unless extended)
  • It also restricts the issue of Winding Up Petitions from 27th April to 30th June (unless extended)
  • It should be noted that this generally only relates to situations where a non-payment is due to COVID-19 and there have been a number of legal cases recently which found in favour of the creditor because the Court felt COVID-19 was being wrongly used as an excuse not to pay a debt that had been outstanding for many months

Companies House formalities

A number of other changes have been introduced in relation to compliance with Companies House regulations:

  • Those companies that are required to hold an AGM or General Meeting are now allowed to do so by “other means”. This has been applied retrospectively from 26th March therefore any meetings held since then which, in order to observe the social distancing guidance, did not technically comply with the rules, would not be in breach of the company’s constitution
  • Shareholders’ rights to vote are unaffected but they may not be able to vote in person
  • Extension of certain filing deadlines as the government recognise that the current COVID-19 challenges may make it difficult for companies to file statutory documents such as accounts on time

https://www.lclifecycle.co.uk/new-corporate-insolvency-governance-bill-covid-19-condenses-12-month-process-into-six-weeks/

Apply for the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The scheme helps medium and large sized businesses to access loans and other kinds of finance up to £200 million.

The government guarantees 80% of the finance to the lender.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

You need to show that:

  • your business would be viable were it not for the pandemic
  • your business has been affected by coronavirus
  • the loan will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty resulting from coronavirus

If you’re borrowing more than £50 million you must agree to restrictions on dividend payments, senior pay and share buy-backs during the period of the loan. Check the eligibility requirements.

Who cannot apply

Businesses from any sector can apply, except:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • building societies
  • public-sector bodies
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

What you can get

You can apply for:

  • loans
  • revolving credit facilities (including overdrafts)
  • invoice finance
  • asset finance

A lender can provide up to 25% of your annual turnover. The maximum amount you can borrow is £200 million.

How long the loan is for

Finance is available from 3 months to 3 years.

How to apply

There are 12 lenders taking part in the scheme including all the main retail banks. You should approach a suitable lender yourself via the lender’s website.

You’ll need to tell the lender:

  • the amount you’d like to borrow
  • what the money is for
  • how long you’d like to pay it back

Supporting documents

You’ll need to provide documents that show you can afford to repay the loan.

These may include:

  • management accounts
  • cash flow forecast
  • business plan
  • historic accounts
  • details of assets

The documents you need will depend on the lender. A loan could still be an option even if you do not have everything listed here.

The lender will check that the loan is:

  • for a suitable business purpose
  • affordable for you
  • the right type of finance for your needs

The lender will decide whether to offer you a loan or another type of finance. Your business will be responsible for repaying 100% of the amount you borrow.

Find a lender

If the lender turns you down

If one lender turns you down, you can apply to other lenders in the scheme.

You may want to consider using a broker to find the right type of finance for your needs, or do your own research using the British Business Bank’s Finance Guide.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-the-coronavirus-large-business-interruption-loan-scheme


28/05/2020

5 tips for leading your company out of a crisis

Getting out of a crisis is difficult and requires extraordinary measures and great efforts from a company and its people. Since we’re here to help, we’ve listed 5 tips for leading your company out of a crisis or turnaround situation. Read on and make smart use of these tips.

  1. Identify (and solve) the problem(s)

How do you know that your company is in trouble? Well, depending on the situation, there are more than 25 different signs of potential distress – as you can see below. Most of the time, troubled companies are dealing with multiple signs or problems at the same time, caused by internal and external factors (i.e. the current COVID-19 crisis) interacting together. Identifying these signs and solving the underlying problems is one of the things you should do first when you strive to lead a company out of a crisis.

Distress signals

  • Declining or negative cash flow;
  • Declining stock price;
  • Regulatory inquiries;
  • Large or unplanned workforce reductions;
  • Increase in outstanding accounts payable;
  • Resignations of key finance staff;
  • Management turnover;
  • Shrinking EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) margin.
  1. Find (and retain) talented people

One of the (few) good sides of a crisis is that the opportunity arises to find the next level of talent in an organisation. As a (turnaround) manager, you should look beyond the leadership team for people with institutional knowledge. They know all the ins and outs of the company and are essential to realising the impact of potential changes on the business. Be aware though, in many cases, they are the dissatisfied ones, unhappy with the company’s performance. But because of this, they are willing to point out the painful truths – and that’s just what needs to be done on the road to leading a company out of a crisis.

You should also keep an eye out for people that want to add value and impact. In most cases, you won’t find these people sitting around the table at the beginning, but two or three levels down – waiting for an opportunity to be part of something greater than themselves.

Retaining these people isn’t always about money and bonuses: it’s about figuring out their individual needs and get them involved.

  1. Concentrate on cash

In general, the board and management of most companies focus on complex, long-term metrics like EBIT and turnover. There’s nothing wrong with that, but unpleasant surprises are waiting when no one is concentrating on cash, especially during a crisis. So, the opposite needs to be done to keep a company financially healthy. The best way of doing this is by finding out which investments are making or burning cash, and by subsequently bringing your business back to its fundamental element of success. This makes it easier to see the actions needed to get back on track in terms of cash flow and steer out of the crisis you’re in.

As a company, you need forecasts with a mid to long term view to be able to focus on cash and avoid cash flow-related surprises

By the way: watching your bank balance isn’t the right way of keeping track of cash. As a company, you need forecasts with a mid to long term view to be able to focus on cash and avoid cash flow-related surprises. Focussing on an investment with a five-year return while money goes out the door, isn’t the right way either, so concentrating on cash flow is vital.

  1. Treat every turnaround like a crisis

Most companies without a crisis mindset, react the same to change: they focus on avoiding risks, and therefore they take small steps instead of leaps to get something done. There’s nothing wrong with this approach in a normal situation, but when in a real crisis, significant action is needed. Companies that treat every turnaround like a crisis and thus have that crisis mindset are willing to try the bold things that could change the trajectory of a company.

If that shows that you’re not moving with – or outpacing – the rest of the industry, then your business plan may be out-of-date

  1. Dare to criticize your own business plan

The best thing you can do to avoid distress is to periodically review your business plans and see how the company scores on operational and market performance. Find out where you stand as a company using essential financial and cash flow milestones, and do the same concerning your business and competitors. If that shows that you’re not moving with – or outpacing – the rest of the industry, then your business plan may be out-of-date. Last but not least: don’t forget to look back at your business performance over the past to identify any trends. If you keep missing targets, ask why and most of all: be critical.

Contact us

Contact us and get in touch with our expert business advisors if you need (more) support with leading your company out of a crisis.

Sustainability offers Coronavirus protection

Evidence is emerging that companies with strong environmental and social credentials are more likely to be resilient to the challenges of the Coronavirus pandemic.

According to research from HSBC, shares of companies focused on climate change or environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues have largely outperformed the market during the early weeks of the pandemic.

Share performance

Ashim Paun, co-head of ESG research at HSBC, said ESG factors were important in understanding how companies and sectors are exposed to the Coronavirus crisis.

“Our core ESG conviction is that issuers succeed long-term, and hence deliver shareholder returns when they create value for all stakeholders – employees, customers, suppliers, the environment, and wider society,” he explained.

“When crises like COVID-19 manifest, particularly with social and environmental causes and implications, investors can see ESG as a defensive characteristic.”

‘Correlation between sustainability and risk management’

As well as positive investor sentiment, companies that are making progress to improve sustainability within their supply chains are also likely to be more resilient to the supply disruptions associated with COVID-19.

Speaking at a procurement event in London in March, Jim Carter, commercial director at the Ministry of Defence said: “If you think about coronavirus and the impact on your supply chain, suppliers who have better engagement on sustainability issues can manage the risk on coronavirus as well. There is a correlation between suppliers who lean into the sustainability agenda and an ability to manage macro risks.”

https://www.gmchamber.co.uk/news-opinions/member-news/sustainability-offers-coronavirus-protection

Small businesses voice cashflow fears as UK economy prepares to open shop

Thousands of small businesses say they are firefighting immediate concerns such as cashflow pressures and resuming operations safely ahead of lockdown lift.

Small businesses are seeing their survival instincts kick-in amid fears over their ability to access cash required to operate post-lockdown.

The latest research from ACCA (the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants) and The Corporate Finance Network (CFN) highlights the growing number of SMEs seeking reassurance on how to manage their cashflow as the UK comes out of the Covid-19 lockdown.

ACCA and CFN’s Weekly SME Health Tracker surveyed accountancy practitioners advising 1,800 small businesses. They revealed clients’ three main fears were the ability to manage cashflow pressures, implementing the practicalities of social distancing guidelines at work, and the late payment of invoices.

Key short-term findings from this week’s tracker show:

  • 23% of SMEs are unable to access cash to last another two weeks of lockdown
  • 14% of SMEs won’t have access cash to last four weeks of lockdown
  • 5% intend to dissolve, up from 4% on last week’s findings

Concerns were raised by companies on their ability to access cash from the government’s financial support schemes. The strain on firms continues: 89% of practitioners report SME clients are feeling more stressed, 78% have worse mental health and a worrying 11% are suicidal.

Long-term decisions are increasingly being put on the backburner with 60% of companies revealing they are deferring tax liabilities. However, one encouraging sign saw 64% believe these can be met within six months.

Claire Bennison, head of ACCA UK, says it appears SMEs are cautious to take on more debt: ‘Members have revealed their frustration with the loan schemes, access to cash is not happening quickly enough meaning cashflow is weak. We’re also finding complications with financial support schemes such as the turning away of directors from the furlough scheme because they receive annual PAYE, despite these payments being eligible. Issues such as these are compounding SME’s concerns in the immediate term around the access to cash they had assumed would be available.

‘ACCA maintains loan schemes should be extended to any FCA regulated provider and has suggested immediate liquidity support could be provided to CBILS applicants based on a proportion of normal operating revenue. Firms are prolonging their future planning demonstrated by the rise in tax liability deferrals. Through our recent roundtables, we’ve heard from manufacturing and hospitality industries that there isn’t the level of confidence to move forward smoothly and efficiently.’

Kirsty McGregor, founder of the CFN, said: ‘The release of lockdown will be the riskiest time for most owner-managed businesses as they are feeling the pinch from all sides – they are unable to generate cashflow quickly due to their customers’ lack of credit; they are incurring additional costs in their own premises due to social distancing or PPE requirements and they are being chased for old debts themselves, putting their relationships with suppliers under pressure. It is no wonder that many business owners are choosing to hunker down for a while longer rather than stick their head up above the parapet just yet.’

https://www.thecfn.org.uk/small-businesses-voice-cashflow-fears-as-uk-economy-prepares-to-open-shop/

Greater Manchester’s Mayor supports Stockport Covid-19 Business Recovery initiative

Greater Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham has thanked Stockport for its innovative approach to supporting businesses in the grip of the coronavirus pandemic.

As lockdown put the brakes on the local economy, Stockport accelerated its plans to recovery including forming an economic resilience support group and launching two websites. Stockport-JobsMatch.co.uk provides a free service for employers and candidates and SKBusinessRecovery.co.uk, an online portal providing a one-stop resource of support, an online peer-to-peer forum and free access to local business leaders – the Stockport Recovery Board – to help business owners navigate through the recovery process. 

Following the launch of the SK Business Recovery, Andy Burnham commented reiterated his commitment to supporting the town: 

Stockport Council are a brilliant example of a council that forges strong relationships with its business community and we want to support them in any way that we can.

“The launch of the Stockport Business Recovery website is a fantastic resource giving people information, pointers to where they can access support. It’s that kind of practical help that’s going to be needed at this moment in time.

“Well done to everyone at Stockport Council, good luck to everyone in the Stockport business community. We are behind you; you know we believe in the town, it’s why we’ve launched the Stockport Mayoral Development Corporation. The town has got a great future and, at Greater Manchester, we’re all right behind you.”

In addition to providing up-to-date information, the Stockport Recovery Board of local business leaders, are hosting webinars to provide guidance and support to fellow business owners and leaders as they begin to rebuild their businesses and the local economy.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/greater-manchesters-mayor-supports-stockport-covid-19-business-recovery-initiative/

Working and childcare during the Covid-19 pandemic

With schools closed to the majority of children during the Covid-19 pandemic, many parents now working from home are having to balance childcare and their jobs.

For many working parents, life has changed as we know it due to the current pandemic.

The Government announced on 10 May that a return to school is imminent for some children, with certain year groups to start back on 1 June. However, this did not cover all age groups and some local authorities have decided they will not be following the Government’s guidance in any event. Therefore, it is likely that many children will be at home for the foreseeable future.

One issue which therefore seems to be causing problems is that many parents / carers are being expected to carry out their jobs, with no consideration of the fact that they also need to look after their children due to nurseries and schools being closed. Not only dealing with homeschooling but everything that comes from the children being at home, such as feeding them, cleaning and keeping them entertained.

So where does that leave working parents / carers? The Prime Minister has said that employers must be understanding, which is unhelpful to both employers and employees, so what are the options available?

  1. Flexible Working

You can ask your employer to alter your working arrangements to allow you to continue to work and care for your child/children at the same time, or alternate/share the responsibility with your partner/spouse. This could include allowing you to work from home or altering your hours / days of work. 

The Government have stated that wherever possible, employee’s should be allowed to work from home. Many employers are going further than this by allowing staff to reduce their days, start work earlier, log on to do work in at weekends or in the evening so that they can balance home and work life better, in the current situation.

If you think this would be beneficial, the first step is to have a discussion with your employer to explain the situation. Any agreement should then be recorded in writing so that there is no confusion as to what is expected and when, and should also be noted as a temporary arrangement only, perhaps for as long as schools and nurseries remain closed, or until the Government say people should return to work, as normal.

If your employer is being resistant, you do have the right to make a formal flexible working request. This would be a permanent change to your working arrangements, unless agreed in writing that it is only on a temporary basis. 

  1. Furlough under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (“the CJRS”)

The Government guidance states that employees can request to be furloughed under the CJRS if they are unable to work due to childcare and/or caring commitments. It goes further to state that employees can also ask to be furloughed if they need to stay at home with someone who is shielding.

In these circumstances, your employer can claim for 80% of your wages up to £2,500 per month. They can chose to “top up” the extra so you still receive 100% but they do not have to do so. If you are furloughed, you continue to remain employed by your employer but cannot carry out any work for them. Your employer may ask you to take annual leave during your furlough leave and if you do so, this should be paid at your normal pay (100%).

Unfortunately, whilst you can request to be furloughed, this is not an absolute right and an employer does not have to agree to the request.

  1. Annual Leave

You can ask to use any accrued annual leave, to mean that you have days off each week, or that your working days are shorter.

  1. Dependant’s Leave

You can request to a reasonable amount of time off where necessary for anyone who relies on you for care, to deal with unforeseen or emergency situations. The closure of schools and nurseries, or older relatives not being able to help with childcare would fall into these categories.

Whilst it is normally taken for short periods of time, without any alternatives available at this present time, there is an argument to say that it should last as long as schools/nurseries remain closed and other family members / friends cannot assist. The leave can be taken for a few hours a day, or in blocks of time and should not be refused, given at present it is likely to be both reasonable and necessary for parents / carers to need the time off. 

This type of leave is usually unpaid unless your employer has a policy in place which provides for you to be paid. 

  1. Parental Leave

Parental leave is available to all employees who have 1 years’ continuous service, who have children under 18 years of age. You can take 4 weeks’ leave per child, per year and must be taken in blocks of 1 week. 

You must give 21 days’ notice (albeit this can be shorter by agreement) and unfortunately, unlike dependant’s leave, an employer can refuse a request for parental leave or postpone it where there would be disruption to their business if it were allowed.

Again, this type of leave is usually unpaid unless your employer has a policy in place which provides for you to be paid. 

  1. Unpaid Leave

Some employers are agreeing that employees can take unpaid leave for as long as necessary in order to look after their children. Your employment would continue throughout and the terms of the leave down to agreement with your employer, for example it may be paid/unpaid.

  1. Sick Leave

If you or anyone you live with is suffering from or has symptoms of COVID-19 or have been told to self-isolate by a doctor or NHS 111, you should self-isolate. 

From 13 March, employees and workers who are self-isolating must receive at least Statutory Sick Pay (“SSP”) from the first day they’re absent from work. You may be entitled to enhanced sick pay if your employer has a policy in place which provides for the same.

Most employers are being sensible and understanding, given that even they themselves appreciate that their employees are in this position through no fault of their own and have very few options available to them. 

That said, there are certain rogue employers who are not being helpful and whilst the above list highlights that there are options available, more certainty is needed as to the rights and protection of working parents / carers. If your employer is refusing to furlough you or consider alternatives for you at this time then we would suggest you take legal advice, given that they may be grounds for a grievance complaint to be raised or, in the worst cases, Tribunal claims, such as indirect sex discrimination or constructive dismissal. 

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-working-and-childcare-during-the-covid-19-pandemic/

Timeline for retail to reopen in June

Prime Minister Boris Johnson sets out a timeline for retail to reopen in June.

Thousands of high street shops, department stores and shopping centres across England are set to reopen next month once they are COVID-19 secure and can show customers will be kept safe, the Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.

The Prime Minister has set out:

  • Outdoor markets and car showrooms will be able to reopen from 1 June, as soon as they are able to meet the COVID-19 secure guidelines to protect shoppers and workers. As with garden centres, the risk of transmission of the virus is lower in these outdoor and more open spaces. Car showrooms often have significant outdoor space and it is generally easier to apply social distancing.
  • All other non-essential retail including shops selling clothes, shoes, toys, furniture, books, and electronics, plus tailors, auction houses, photography studios, and indoor markets, will be expected to be able to reopen from 15 June if the Government’s five tests are met and they follow the COVID-19 secure guidelines, giving them three weeks to prepare.

Businesses will only be able to open from these dates once they have completed a risk assessment, in consultation with trade union representatives or workers, and are confident they are managing the risks. They must have taken the necessary steps to become COVID-19 secure in line with the current Health and Safety legislation.

The government is taking action to help businesses re-open and protect their staff and customers, including:

Publishing updated COVID-secure guidelines for people who work in or run shops, branches, and stores, after consultation with businesses, union leaders, Public Health England and the Health and Safety Executive.

Working with local authorities to continue to carry out spot checks and follow up on concerns by members of the public.

The updated guidance considers the best practice demonstrated by the many retailers which have been allowed to remain open and have applied social distancing measures in store. Measures that shops should consider include placing a poster in their windows to demonstrate awareness of the guidance and commitment to safety measures, storing returned items for 72 hours before putting them back out on the shop floor, placing protective coverings on large items touched by the public such as beds or sofas, and frequent cleaning of objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, including self-checkouts, trolleys, coffee machines and betting terminals, for example.

The vast majority of businesses will want to do everything possible to protect their staff and customers, but tough powers are in place to enforce action if they do not, including fines and jail sentences of up to two years.

As per the roadmap, hairdressers, nail bars and beauty salons, and the hospitality sector, remain closed, because the risk of transmission in these environments is higher where long periods of person to person contact is required.


26/05/2020

Economic Indicators and updated government measures

Leading indicators including; financial markets, crude oil prices, transport numbers are all increasing, showing a slow move toward recovery. However, overall electricity consumption remains lower.

Real GDP

The ONS has released data showing that March is down by 5.8% when compared to the same month last year. Q1 is down 2% when compared to the same period last year. This is the largest quarterly decline since the financial crisis.

IBISWorld predicts Real GDP Growth to decline by 13.9% in 2020-21. Assuming a three month lockdown period from March and a three month recovery period thereafter.

Accommodation & Food Service Industries

Most affected industries:

  • Hotels
  • Full-service restaurants
  • Pubs & Bars
  • Cafes & Coffee Shops

Pub operators are calling on the government to relax the two metre social distancing rule to allow for pubs and bars to open as soon as possible. There are also calls for outdoor spaces in pubs and restaurants to be opened. The start of July has been earmarked as the earliest point that these businesses will be allowed to open.

Real Estate

Many operators in the industry have now started to reopen whilst social distancing measures still need to be implemented for the foreseeable future.

Residential house prices are expected to fall, despite an increase in April due to diminished supply. Savills expect this fall to be approximately 7% whereas Lloyds Bank have given a worse case scenario of a 23% decrease. Lower house prices feed through into some construction related industries, so a knock on effect is expected.

Financial Services

The average monthly FTSE 100 index has seen a slight uptick due to relaxed social distancing measures and a slow return to work although still remains well below pre-Coronavirus levels.

Negative interest rates have been introduced by certain markets and therefor, return rates of investors have also been impacted. This was seen in Europe after the financial crisis and has been undertaken as a bounce-back measure.

Updated Government Measures

The UK furlough scheme has now been extended until the end of October. Employers will be asked to contribute towards furloughed worker salaries from August.

£84 million in funding announced for projects working on Coronavirus vaccines.

Testing eligibility criteria has been expanded on 18th May to all those over the age of five that are showing symptoms.

Minding your mental health during the coronavirus pandemic

Infectious disease pandemics like coronavirus (COVID-19) can be worrying. This can affect your mental health. But there are many things you can do to mind your mental health during times like this.

How it might affect your mental health

The spread of coronavirus is a new and challenging event. Some people might find it more worrying than others. Medical, scientific and public health experts are working hard to contain the virus. Try to remember this when you feel worried.

Most people’s lives will change in some way over a period of days, weeks or months. But in time, it will pass.

You may notice some of the following:

  • increased anxiety
  • feeling stressed
  • finding yourself excessively checking for symptoms, in yourself, or others
  • becoming irritable more easily
  • feeling insecure or unsettled
  • fearing that normal aches and pains might be the virus
  • having trouble sleeping
  • feeling helpless or a lack of control
  • having irrational thoughts

If you are taking any prescription medications, make sure you have enough.

How to mind your mental health during this time

Keeping a realistic perspective of the situation based on facts is important. Here are some ways you can do this.

We also have guides on:

Stay informed but set limits for news and social media

The constant stream of social media updates and news reports about coronavirus could cause you to feel worried. Sometimes it can be difficult to separate facts from rumours. Use trustworthy and reliable sources to get your news.

Read up-to-date, factual information on coronavirus in Ireland here.

On social media, people may talk about their own worries or beliefs. You don’t need to make them your own. Too much time on social media may increase your worry and levels of anxiety. Consider limiting how much time you spend on social media.

If you find the coverage on coronavirus is too intense for you, talk it through with someone close or get support.

Keep up your healthy routines

Your routine may be affected by the coronavirus outbreak in different ways. But during difficult times like this, it’s best if you can keep some structure in your day.

It’s important to pay attention to your needs and feelings, especially during times of stress. You may still be able to do some of the things you enjoy and find relaxing.

For example, you could try to:

Stay connected to others

During times of stress, friends and families can be a good source of support. It is important to keep in touch with them and other people in your life.

If you need to restrict your movements or self-isolate, try to stay connected to people in other ways, for example:

  • e-mail
  • social media
  • video calls
  • phone calls
  • text messages

Many video calling apps allow you to have video calls with multiple people at the same time.

Remember that talking things through with someone can help lessen worry or anxiety. You don't have to appear to be strong or to try to cope with things by yourself.

Try to anticipate distress and support each other

It is understandable to feel vulnerable or overwhelmed reading or hearing news about the outbreak.

Acknowledge these feelings. Remind yourself and others to look after your physical and mental health.

Smoking, drinking and eating for comfort

If you smoke or drink, try to avoid doing this any more than usual. It won’t help in the long-term.

Eating habits can often be linked to your emotions. You may turn to food for comfort during this pandemic. Long-term comfort eating can lead to weight gain and affect your health. It’s important to be able to recognise and separate out your emotions from your eating.

Read more about how to eat well.

Don’t make assumptions

Don’t judge people or make assumptions about who is responsible for the spread of the disease. The coronavirus can affect anyone regardless of age, gender, nationality or ethnicity. We are all in this together.

Online and phone supports

Face-to-face services are limited at the moment because of the coronavirus outbreak. But some services are providing online and phone services.

Find mental health supports and services that can help during COVID-19 outbreak

If you are using mental health services for an existing mental health condition

If things get difficult, it can be helpful to have a plan to help you get through.

Things you can do:

  • have a list of numbers of mental health service and relatives or friends you can call if you need support
  • keep taking any medication and continue to fill your prescription with support from your GP or psychiatrist
  • continue with any counselling or psychotherapy session you have
  • limit your news intake and only use trusted sources of information
  • practice relaxation techniques and breathing exercises

If your condition gets worse, contact your mental health team or GP.

If you have an intellectual disability

If you have an intellectual disability, you may feel more worried or sad because of coronavirus. Staying at home could be difficult for you. You could also be worried about your family or those close to you.

It is important to take care of yourself. Try to keep a routine, shower every day and eat healthy food

Follow the advice to stay at home. You can keep in touch with people you trust over the phone or the internet.

Read advice about supporting someone with special needs during the coronavirus pandemic.

For more advice on minding your mental health visit inclusionireland.ie

It is also important to prevent spreading the virus. For information on how to do this, read the HSE Coronavirus Easy-Read Information Booklet.

OCD and coronavirus

If you have OCD, you may develop an intense fear of:

  • catching coronavirus
  • causing harm to others
  • things not being in order

Fear of being infected by the virus may mean you become obsessed with:

  • hand hygiene
  • cleanliness
  • avoiding certain situations, such as using public transport

Washing your hands

The compulsion to wash your hands or clean may get stronger. If you have recovered from this type of compulsion in the past, it may return.

Follow the advice above. Wash your hands properly and often, but you do not need to do more than recommended.

Read more about obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) symptoms, treatment and getting help.

https://www2.hse.ie/wellbeing/mental-health/covid-19/minding-your-mental-health-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak.html

New Covid-19 business recovery website – helping Stockport get back to work

As Stockport’s business community prepares for recovery post-coronavirus, a new website – www.skbusinessrecovery.co.uk is helping to support businesses through the phases of recovery.

The new website provides a portal to a wealth of information and support tools to help businesses quickly navigate their way through the complexities brought about as a result of the coronavirus. It has been designed to help businesses and the economy recover from the considerable impact of Covid-19, including a forum where users can seek advice,  share experiences and discuss ideas. 

The ‘SK Recovery’ website is also a platform to showcase innovation, where businesses have been inspired to revise their business models, to look for opportunities, to trial new ideas and to launch new products. 

The website provides access to a valuable resource normally only available to those who have the means to secure an experienced and expensive executive board. The Stockport Recovery Support Board, a team of experienced professionals, are on hand to provide expert guidance via a regular webinar and to support businesses to develop their recovery plan.

The site also share ideas on how to manage the crisis on a day-to-day basis, and to build recovery for the future as the borough moves through the various phases returning to a new normal.

Cllr Elise Wilson, leader of Stockport Council, said:

“In a short space of time the coronavirus has dramatically affected the way we live our lives. This has left people feeling worried and businesses of all shapes and sizes have been left uncertain about their future.

“To help out, we've joined forces with businesses in Stockport to create a website for our business community. The SK recovery website will provide advice from experienced and well respected business leaders and contain forums where businesses can support each other.

“Our long term recovery lies upon our ability to help each other so collectively we can continue to deliver for everyone.”

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

“Our recovery is going to be shaped around supporting Stockport businesses and within it, the local community.

The website will allow local businesses to develop closer links with one another, which can then support buying and using each other’s services.

“This is essential. By doing this, we can help ensure an>y economic benefits are retained within Stockport so we bounce back from this crisis strongly and begin to 'build back better'.

“Alongside this, we are developing our longer-term economic recovery plan that will ensure Stockport remains one of the best places to invest and do business in."

For more information, visit https://skbusinessrecovery.co.uk/

YouTube link to comment from Leader of Stockport Council, Cllr Elise Wilson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EoRRDER3kn8&feature=youtu.be

Claim back Statutory Sick Pay paid to your employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19)

How to use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to claim back employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP).

Before you start

You’ll need to:

Work out your claim period

You can claim for multiple pay periods and employees at the same time.

To complete your claim you’ll need the start and end dates of the claim period which is the:

  • start date of the earliest pay period you’re claiming for - if the pay period started before 13 March you’ll need to use 13 March as the start date
  • end date of the most recent pay period you’re claiming for - this must be on or before the date you make your claim (because you can only claim for SSP paid in arrears)

What you’ll need

You’ll need:

  • the number of employees you are claiming for
  • start and end dates of your claim period
  • the total amount of coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay you have paid to your employees for the claim period - this should not exceed the weekly rate of SSP that is set
  • your Government Gateway user ID and password that you got when you registered for PAYE Online - if you do not have this find out how to get your lost user ID
  • your employer PAYE reference number
  • the contact name and phone number of someone we can contact if we have queries
  • your UK bank or building society account details (only provide account details where a Bacs payment can be accepted) including:
    • bank or building society account number (and roll number if it has one)
    • sort code
    • name on the account
    • your address linked to your bank or building society account

Records you must keep

You must keep records of Statutory Sick Pay that you’ve paid and want to claim back from HMRC.

You must keep the following records for 3 years after the date you receive the payment for your claim:

  • the dates the employee was off sick
  • which of those dates were qualifying days
  • the reason they said they were off work - if they had symptoms, someone they lived with had symptoms or they were shielding
  • the employee’s National Insurance number

You can choose how you keep records of your employees’ sickness absence. HMRC may need to see these records if there’s a dispute over payment of SSP.

You’ll need to print or save your state aid declaration (from your claim summary) and keep this until 31 December 2024.

How to claim

If you use an agent who is authorised to do PAYE Online for you, they will be able to claim on your behalf. You should speak to your agent about whether they are providing this service.

If you make multiple claims, the claim periods can overlap.

Online services may be slow during busy times. Check if there are any problems with this service.

Claim now

Employers who are unable to claim online should have received a letter on an alternative way to claim. Contact HMRC if you have not received a letter and are unable to make any eligible claims online.

After you’ve claimed

Your claim will be checked, and if valid, paid into the account you supplied within 6 working days.

HMRC will check claims and take appropriate action to withhold or recover payments found to be dishonest or inaccurate. Where employers knowingly and deliberately provide false or misleading information to benefit from the claim, HMRC will apply penalties of up to £3000.

We will contact you using the details you provided if we have any queries about the claim.

Do not contact HMRC unless it has been more than 10 working days since you have made your claim and you have not received it or been contacted by us within that time.

Other help you can get

Get help online

Use HMRC’s digital assistant to find more information about the coronavirus support schemes.

Contacting HMRC

We are receiving very high numbers of calls. Contacting HMRC unnecessarily puts our essential public services at risk during these challenging times.

You can contact HMRC about the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme if you cannot get the help you need online.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-your-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Coronavirus (COVID-19): safer travel guidance for passengers

Travel safely during the coronavirus outbreak

This guide will help you understand how to travel safely during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in England. It provides guidance for walking, cycling, using private vehicles (for example cars and vans), and travelling by taxis and public transport (for example trains, buses, coaches and ferries).

You should avoid using public transport where possible. Instead try to walk, cycle, or drive. If you do travel, thinking carefully about the times, routes and ways you travel will mean we will all have more space to stay safe.

Is your journey necessary?

To help keep yourself and your fellow passengers safe, you should not travel if you:

Before you travel, consider if your journey is necessary and if you can, stay local. Try to reduce your travel. This will help keep the transport network running and allow people who need to make essential journeys to travel. You can reduce your travel by:

  • working from home where possible
  • shopping less frequently and shopping locally

Walking and cycling

Walking and cycling will reduce pressure on the public transport system and the road network. Consider walking and cycling if you can. Local cycling schemes can be used. Your local council can help you plan your journey by providing maps showing dedicated paths and routes.

Where possible, try to maintain social distancing when you walk or cycle, for example when approaching or passing other pedestrians or waiting at crossings and traffic lights.

Where using bikes (private, docked or dockless) wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands before and after cycling.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

Public transport

Plan your journey

Consider all other forms of transport before using public transport.

Before and during your journey, check with your transport operator for the latest travel advice on your route:

Travel may take longer than normal on some routes due to reduced capacity and social distancing measures. Allow sufficient time if your journey involves changes between different forms of transport.

Plan ahead by identifying alternative routes and options in case of unexpected disruption.

If you can, travel at off-peak times. Your transport operator can advise on off-peak times. Your employer may agree alternative or flexible working hours to support this.

Where possible, book your travel online through your transport provider’s ticketing app or website. Consider contactless payment to buy tickets.

Taking a less busy route and reducing the number of changes (for example between bus and train) will help you keep your distance from others. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from other people, where possible. Where this is not possible you should keep the time you spend nears others as short as possible and avoid physical contact.

Try to start or end your journey using a station or mode of transport you know to be quieter or more direct. For instance, walk the first or last mile of your journey, or alight at an earlier station, where this is possible.

What to take with you

If you can, wear a face covering if you need to use public transport.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Consider making a list of items to take with you and minimise the luggage you take.

On your journey

Some routes may be busier than usual due to social distancing measures or changes to previous timetables or schedules. Keep your distance from people outside your household. Public Health England recommends keeping a distance of 2 metres, where possible. The key thing is to not be too close to other people for more than a short amount of time, as much as you can.

The risk of infection increases the closer you are to another person with the virus and the amount of time you spend in close contact: you are very unlikely to be infected from just walking past another person.

There may be situations where you can’t keep a suitable distance from people, for example when boarding or alighting, on busier services, at busier times of day and when walking through interchanges. In these cases you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near others as short as possible. If you can, wear a face covering on public transport. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

Treat transport staff with respect and follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:

  • notices about which seats to use or how to queue
  • additional screens, barriers or floor markings
  • requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas

Help keep yourself, other passengers and transport staff safe:

  • wait for passengers to get off first before you board
  • ensure you maintain social distancing, where possible, including at busy entrances, exits, under canopies, bus stops, platforms or outside of stations
  • be prepared to queue or take a different entrance or exit at stations
  • wait for the next service if you cannot safely keep your distance on board a train, bus or coach
  • respect other people’s space while travelling
  • avoid consuming food and drink on public transport, where possible
  • be aware of pregnant, older and disabled people who may require a seat or extra space
  • be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities

Seek assistance if you need it

If you require assistance when travelling and would normally contact your transport operator ahead of time, continue to do so.

If any problems arise or you feel ill during your journey, speak to a member of transport staff. In the case of an emergency, contact the emergency services as you normally would.

If you need help, maintain a short distance from members of staff, where possible. If this isn’t possible, you should try to avoid physical contact and keep the time you spend near staff as short as possible.

Children on public transport

Where travel is necessary, consider whether children could walk or cycle, accompanied by a responsible adult or carer, where appropriate.

Social distancing applies to children as well as adults. Children should keep their distance from others who are not in their household, where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others. If this isn’t possible children should avoid physical contact, face away from others, and keep the time spent near others as short as possible.

If you are the responsible adult or carer travelling with children, please help them follow this guidance, wear face coverings, minimise the surfaces they touch and maintain their distance from others, where possible.

Children under 2 years old are not recommended to wear face coverings.

Schools may have additional guidance in place for children on transport which we recommend you follow.

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • consider walking or cycling from the station or stop you arrived at
  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible - do the same for children within your care if they have travelled

Taxis and private hire vehicles

At taxi ranks try to keep your distance from people outside your household, where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others, where possible.

Taxi and private hire vehicle (for example minicab) operators are likely to have put in place new measures to help with social distancing. When traveling in taxis or private hire vehicles follow the advice of the driver. For example, you may be asked to sit in the back left hand seat if travelling alone. You may want to check with your taxi operator before travelling if they have put any additional measures in place.

If you need to be near other people you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from other people, and keep the time you spend near other people as short as possible. Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Private cars and other vehicles

Plan your journey

Plan your route, including any breaks, before setting out. Routes may be different as local areas make changes to enable social distancing on pavements and cycle routes.

If you normally share a vehicle with people from other households for essential journeys, we recommend you find a different way to travel. For example, consider walking, cycling or using your own vehicle if you can.

If you have to travel with people outside your household group, try to share the transport with the same people each time and keep to small groups of people at any one time.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

Check that your vehicle is safe and roadworthy if you haven’t used it for several weeks.

On your journey

If driving, you should anticipate more pedestrians and cyclists than usual, especially at peak times of day. Allow other road users to maintain social distance, where possible. For example, give cyclists space at traffic lights. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others, where possible.

Limit the time you spend at garages, petrol stations and motorway services. Try to keep your distance from other people and if possible pay by contactless. Wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands when arriving and leaving.

Be aware of the surfaces you or others touch. If people from different households use a vehicle (for example through a car share scheme), you should clean it between journeys using gloves and standard cleaning products. Make sure you clean door handles, steering wheel and other areas that people may touch.

Where people from different households need to use a vehicle at the same time, good ventilation (keeping the car windows open) and facing away from each other may help to reduce the risk of transmission. Where possible, consider seating arrangements to optimise distance between people in the vehicle.

If you are in close proximity to people outside your household, you should:

  • avoid physical contact
  • try to face away from them
  • keep the time you spend close to them as short as possible

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Aviation, ferries and maritime transport

Plan your journey

Before you travel, check with your travel operator and port, or airline and airport for the latest travel advice on your route.

Consider making a list of items to take with you.

On your journey

Some routes may be busier than usual due to social distancing measures or changes to timetables and schedules.

You should try to keep a short distance from others not in your household, where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from other people. There may be situations where this is not possible. If you need to be near other people, you should avoid physical contact, try to face away from others, and keep the time you spend close to other people as short as possible.

Be aware of the surfaces you touch. Be careful not to touch your face. Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your elbow when coughing or sneezing.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

Follow instructions from your transport operator. This may include:

  • notices about which seats to use or how to queue
  • additional screens, barriers or floor markings
  • requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas

Be considerate to your fellow passengers and to transport staff:

  • do not congregate near entrances or exits while waiting
  • be aware of pregnant, older, disabled people or people with prams who may require extra space or a seat during parts of their journey
  • be aware that some individuals may have hidden disabilities

Completing your journey

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

International travel

If travelling abroad is essential, make sure you check the latest Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) advice and coronavirus essential international travel guidance before travelling. Check your specific plans with your airline, ferry, train operator or accommodation provider, and inform your insurance provider.

At all points in your journey it is important that you follow social distancing guidelines and keep a short distance from others where possible. Public Health England recommends keeping a 2 metre distance from others. Where this may not be possible you should keep the time you spend near other people as short as possible and avoid physical contact.

There are some circumstances when wearing a face covering may be marginally beneficial as a precautionary measure. The evidence suggests that wearing a face covering does not protect you, but it may protect others if you are infected but have not yet developed symptoms. This is most relevant for short periods indoors in crowded areas.

If you can, wear a face covering in an enclosed space where social distancing isn’t possible and where you will come into contact with people you do not normally meet. You should be prepared to remove your face covering if asked to do so by police officers and police staff for the purposes of identification.

A face covering is not the same as the surgical masks or respirators used by healthcare and other workers as part of personal protective equipment. These should continue to be reserved for those who need them to protect against risks in their workplace, such as health and care workers, and those in industrial settings, like those exposed to dust hazards.

Wearing a face covering is optional and is not required by the law. If you choose to wear one, it is important to use face coverings properly and wash your hands before putting them on and after taking them off.

You should review and follow any rules and government guidance set by your destination country, and check public health advice when returning to the UK.

Your transport provider may put measures in place to help you follow the guidance of the destination country.

When finishing your journey, we recommend you:

  • follow all local guidance
  • wash your hands for at least 20 seconds or sanitise your hands as soon as possible

Checklists for safer travel

Plan your journey

  • can I walk or cycle to my destination?
  • have I checked the latest travel advice from my transport operator?
  • have I booked my travel ticket online, bought a pass or checked if contactless payment is possible?
  • have I planned my journey to minimise crowded areas and allow for delays?
  • am I taking the most direct route to my destination?

What to take with you

  • a plan for my journey
  • contactless payment card or pass
  • phone (if needed for travel updates, tickets, contactless payments)
  • tickets
  • hand sanitiser
  • essential medicines
  • tissues
  • a face covering, if required

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers

Statistics on coronavirus funding for business

A collection of documents bringing together information on the amount of funding distributed to businesses and the number of claims that have been made.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): support for care homes

The government has announced a new care homes support package backed by a £600 million adult social care infection control fund. This has been introduced to tackle the spread of COVID-19 in care homes. This guidance provides information on the support package.

The government has written to councils and care providers outlining the details of the support package and has provided additional advice and resources to help stop the spread of infection.

Financial support for voluntary, community and social enterprise (VCSE) organisations to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19)

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) is working to ensure that VCSEs can effectively support HMG’s operational response to key challenges, such as helping the shielding population and the Non-shielding Vulnerable to access food, and other activities that are delivering charitable purposes.

The government has pledged £750 million to ensure VCSE can continue their vital work supporting the country during the coronavirus outbreak including £200 million for the Coronavirus Community Support Fund, along with an additional £150 million from dormant bank and building society accounts. The Office for Civil Society in DCMS is working with colleagues across government to direct funds to support the VCSE and the wide range of essential activities they undertake.

21/05/2020

Strategic supply chain and furlough options

Survival is about being strategic. Company directors and investors that choose to simply stop paying suppliers may be hurting their own post-lockdown recovery, as well as their suppliers.

Our economy is made up of interconnected supply chains. Companies would be well advised to keep in mind corporate self-interests in the broader context of mutual interdependence across all stakeholders. In respect to managing suppliers, more than ever, a strategic approach is required to balance near-term self-interest and long-term mutual dependence. Companies should identify where existing supply chain capital repayment time horizons can be used to their advantage. For example, by purchasing from wholesalers on existing 90-day credit and selling on to pre-identified demand and collecting revenues within 90-days, effectively securing free short-term financing. Where existing supplier repayment time horizons are too tight, suppliers may be motivated to agree to an extension to preserve their revenues. Thus, knowing how Covid-19 is directly affecting both your suppliers and your customers can help businesses to strategically navigate the lockdown. By contrast, if too many companies adopt aggressive self-interested positions, the net effect could be worse for all leading to more insolvencies and a weaker post-lockdown recovery.

But decisions between corporate self-interest and mutual dependence are not always clear cut. Some companies may be struggling with corporate moral dilemmas, such as whether to exercise the right to government schemes and protections, when utilisation is not for survival. Directors who do not pay rent because of the eviction moratorium, or furlough staff to save costs and only to delay redundancy, or apply for interest-free loans and grants to paper over the cracks of an already impaired balance sheet, may seem like an abuse of the system which potentially can worsen the recovery for all. On the other hand, directors have a legal obligation to act in the interest of all stakeholders which includes minimising losses wherever possible. So, which obligation is first: the legal requirement to your shareholders, or the moral responsibility to the UK government and the taxpayer? One of the challenges of rushing out legislation to preserve the economy is that a one size fits all approach will inevitably allow some degree of exploitation and the answers and appropriateness of company actions are generally not clear cut and nuanced, particularly given the uncertain timing of any kind of economic recovery. 

Company directors have difficult decisions to take over how you prioritise liabilities. The best approach is to consider the near term in the context of potential future customer demand. Making decisions on liabilities only in the context of trying to reduce them is to narrow. Likewise, identifying the interests of the company, without understanding all counterparties is similarly blinkered. This underscores the need for broad communication with all key counterparties which will in turn help inform decisions. Learn how your customers see their post-lockdown demand; some may see opportunities out of the crisis which could support confidence in your commitments to your supply chain. Identifying a mutual pathway forward should be the focus. These are different circumstances which require a new rulebook to survive and prosper.

https://resource-centre.co.uk/72/2302/may-2020/covid-19---strategic-supply-chain---north-west.asp 

Are your business premises Covid-19 safe?

if you operate within the identified sectors and plan to bring your employees back on site then you must complete an online HSE assessment in order to achieve your H&S certificate and also be prepared for the possibility of a random spot check to ensure you are following the new Covid-19 secure guidelines.

Health and safety has always been an important factor within the workplace but under the current circumstances employers are going to need to make sure they are implementing new procedures to ensure they are complying to the new guidelines and even more importantly keeping their employees and themselves safe. HSE will be taking this very seriously and there will be serious implications if the guidelines are not being followed.

The government said the new Covid-19 secure guidance will work alongside current health and safety rules and a further £14m in funding will be provided to the HSE for extra call-centre workers, inspectors and equipment.

The HSE ‘Five Steps To Safer Working Together’ that you must show compliance with to obtain your certificate are:

  • Carry out a COVID-19 risk assessment and share the results with the people who work there
  • Have cleaning, handwashing and hygiene procedures in place in line with guidance
  • Have taken all reasonable steps to help people work from home
  • Have taken all reasonable steps to maintain a 2m distance in the workplace
  • Where people cannot be 2m apart, have done everything practical to manage transmission risk

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/are-your-business-premises-covid-19-safe/

Guidance released for Stockport firms considering Discretionary Business Grant

Businesses in Stockport who have not been eligible for existing coronavirus Government funding can apply for a new Discretionary Business Grant that will launch on Friday, May 22.

The Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund was announced by the Government on May 1.

Stockport Council has this week released guidance to businesses in the borough regarding the new grant, which is targeted at firms who have not been eligible for existing government funds.

The guidance from the government has indicated that the grants are aimed at:

  • Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006.
  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs
  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis
  • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

The information that the council has now published sets out the criteria for which priority businesses are eligible to apply, the application process and the date from which applications can be made.

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

“To date, we have paid out more than £54million in government grants to around 4,600 businesses in the borough.

“However, we know there are businesses in Stockport that have not been eligible for any government assistance so far: from those that have waited years for a rateable value on their property to those in shared spaces, such as warehouses or mills. 

“The Discretionary Grants Fund will help those businesses previously ineligible to claim support that can help them through this unprecedented period.

“Stockport will soon begin its economic recovery and as part of that, the council is ready to back local businesses and encourage the whole borough to get behind them.

“This grant money will, I hope, support businesses into the recovery period: we all need to be working together and supporting each other on the path towards Building Back Better.”

In order for the Discretionary Business Grant to benefit the maximum number of eligible small businesses, there will be five levels of grant, which will directly be proportionate to the level of property costs for the business, and take into account the impact on a business owner’s income due to the coronavirus crisis.

If the fund is oversubscribed due to the number of applications received, the council will amend the grant levels to a pro-rata basis, which will be based on the applications received and approved.

Payments to businesses that meet the criteria will be made from Friday, June 5.

The full guidance can be found on Stockport Council’s website.

For questions specific to the Discretionary Business Grant, please email the Council’s grant team.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/guidance-released-for-stockport-firms-considering-discretionary-business-grant/

£40m boost for cutting-edge start-ups

Innovative businesses and start-ups are set to benefit from a £40 million government investment to drive forward new technological advances. Business Secretary Alok Sharma today (20 May 2020) announced the government is doubling investment in the Fast Start Competition with an additional £20 million.

The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis while supporting the UK’s next generation of cutting-edge start-ups – helping to build the businesses of tomorrow and propel their future prosperity.

Among the successful projects to receive the funding to date, is a virtual-reality surgical training simulator and an online farmers’ market platform.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:

The coronavirus crisis has created challenges that impact the way we live, work and travel but has also prompted a wave of new innovations as businesses look at ways to solve some of the challenges facing our world today.

This funding will support UK start-ups to deliver potential solutions, services and ways of working and help ensure the long term sustainability of these businesses.

The investment comes from a £211 million government support package to drive forward business-led innovation and is part of a wider investment package of £1.25 billion for innovative UK businesses, announced by the Chancellor on 20 April 2020.

The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch said:

The UK is a world-leader in research and development, and our ability to innovate will be key to tackling this crisis.

This £40 million of funding will deliver practical solutions such as new virtual farmers markets and entertainment platforms to bring the best British produce and cultural entertainment to our own homes.

Innovate UK received a record number of applications – over 8,600 to the Fast Start Competition and will now be able to distribute investment to over 800 projects.

Projects receiving funding include:

  • I3d Robotics which is building a virtual-reality training/teaching platform to enable medical students to upskill remotely and perform simulation surgeries.
  • Volunteero Ltd has developed a social media app to connect local communities and allow volunteers to target support to the most vulnerable members in their neighbourhoods.
  • Elchies Estates Limited is setting up new virtual farmers’ markets to replace traditional markets which have had to close as a result of COVID-19, providing a platform for local businesses and farmers to sell produce.

Executive Chair, Innovate UK, Dr Ian Campbell, said:

Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation.

The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.

Farm Manager & Directors Elchies Estates Limited Julie Comins and Brian Cameron said:

The virtual farmers’ market project is a response to the short-and-medium-term implications of COVID-19 and the change in food buying patterns.

The platform aims to offer all sizes of fresh and frozen farm produce from an ‘open all hours’ location. Being able to sell local produce in a completely safe and local environment will be welcomed, especially by the many older customers of our farmers markets and farm events which have been cancelled for the foreseeable future.

For customers living in rural areas, the project will allow them to continue to access great local produce with minimal food miles and, for the first time, 24/7. For us, we continue to provide for our community whilst safeguarding ourselves, our farm and our contractors.

The Fast Start Competition was launched in April in response to the outbreak and is being managed by Innovate UK.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/40m-boost-for-cutting-edge-start-ups

Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme extension

HM Treasury announced an extension to the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS).

Including that:

  • maximum loan size available under the scheme will increase from £50m to £200m, up to 25% of turnover, so that some larger firms which do not qualify for the Bank of England’s Covid Corporate Financing Facility will be better able to access enough finance to meet their cashflow needs during the outbreak
  • alongside the increase, companies receiving help of over £50 million through CLBILS on terms of more than 12 months must agree certain restrictions, including not paying dividends and exercising restraint on senior management pay.

Further information will be provided on Tuesday 26 May.

https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/hm-treasury-announce-coronavirus-large-business-interruption-loan-scheme-extension-from-26-may/

Latest figures show millions benefitting from Treasury coronavirus support schemes

The new figures show that:

  • 8 million jobs have now been furloughed with £11.1 billion claimed so far through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)
  • 2 million Self-employment Income Support (SEISS) claims have been submitted worth £6.1 billion
  • Bounce Back Loan Scheme (BBLS) has seen 464,393 approved loans so far worth £14.18 billion
  • Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) has seen 40,564 loans worth £7.25 billion approved so far
  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) has seen 86 approved loans totalling £0.59 billion

Welcoming the statistics, Chancellor Rishi Sunak said:

“Our plan to support businesses and individuals is one of the most comprehensive in the world. As these figures show, we are currently supporting millions of workers and businesses through these tough times so we can recover as quickly as possible.”

Further information

Updated figures for the schemes will be published each week.

The latest CJRS and SEISS figures can be found here.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/latest-figures-show-millions-benefitting-from-treasury-coronavirus-support-schemes

Apprenticeship programme response

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations in response to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The Government sates this is a difficult time for apprentices, employers and providers of apprenticeship training, assessment and external assurance. The government is committed to supporting apprentices, and employers continue to build the skills capabilities the country needs now and in the future.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responding by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19), and to support providers during this challenging time.

The support they are providing includes:

  • supporting employers, providers, and apprentices to work together to mutually agree where and how this training takes place. This includes in the workplace where a provider is able to do so safely and where that workplace meets new ‘coronavirus secure’ guidelines on ensuring the workplace is safe
  • confirming flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training and to take their end-point assessment, and to allow existing furloughed employees to start a new apprenticeship, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employer
  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely, and via e-learning, as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible - this is in order to support employers, providers and end-point assessment organisation (EPAOs) to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to coronavirus issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled
  • apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment time frame
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to coronavirus is greater than 4 weeks
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is the ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks
  • confirming that where apprentices are made redundant and are ready to go through gateway, that providers and EPAOs are able to make the necessary assessment arrangements to support these apprentices
  • confirming that they are extending the transition period onto the apprenticeship service. Funds available for new starts on non-levy procured contracts can now be used until 31 March 2021. All starts will be through the apprenticeship service from 1 April 2021

The Government are keeping the developing situation, and guidance, under review and will continue updating this guidance as new information is available and/or the situation evolves.

The information should be read alongside the government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses, in particular the salary support for furloughed employees, which also applies to apprentices.

They have also broken down some of this guidance into articles for employers, training providers and EPAOs, as well as articles for apprentices. These can be found on the Apprenticeship Service Help page.

Employers, training providers and EPAOs: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb

Apprentices: https://help.apprenticeships.education.gov.uk/hc/en-gb/sections/360003798540-Apprentice

Read guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) on the delivery of assessment here: https://www.instituteforapprenticeships.org/response-to-covid-19/

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response


19/05/2020

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme set to launch

A new online service will be launched on 26 May for small and medium-sized employers to recover Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) payments they have made to their employees, the government announced today (19 May 2020).

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme was announced at Budget as part of a package of support measures for businesses affected by the COVID-19 outbreak.

This scheme will allow small and medium-sized employers, with fewer than 250 employees, to apply to HMRC to recover the costs of paying coronavirus-related SSP.

Employers will be able to make their claims through a new online service from 26 May. This means they will receive repayments at the relevant rate of SSP that they have paid to current or former employees for eligible periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

To prepare to make their claim, employers should keep records of all the SSP payments that they wish to claim from HMRC. You can read further guidance on checking whether you can claim back SSP paid to employees due to coronavirus (COVID-19) on GOV.UK.

Secretary of State for the Department of Work and Pensions, Therese Coffey, said:

We are committed to supporting Britain’s small and medium businesses through this pandemic with a comprehensive package of support.

This rebate will put money back in the pockets of millions of employers, ensuring they can hit the ground running as the economy re-opens.

Angela MacDonald, HMRC’s Director General of Customer Services, said:

Our teams have worked hard to deliver this scheme for employers and their employees to ensure they get the support they need. We want employers to be secure in the knowledge they will receive help as they care for their staff during this difficult period.

Employers are eligible if they have a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started before 28 February 2020 and they had fewer than 250 employees before the same date.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks of SSP and is payable if an employee is unable to work because they:

  • have coronavirus; or
  • are self-isolating and unable to work from home; or
  • are shielding because they’ve been advised that they’re at high risk of severe illness from coronavirus

Further information

The current rate of SSP is £95.85 per week[1]. Employers can choose to go further and pay more than the statutory minimum. This is known as occupational or contractual sick pay.

Where an employer pays more than the current rate of SSP in sick pay, they will only be able to reclaim the SSP rate.

The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

Other SSP eligibility criteria apply.

Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees is fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020. Employees do not have to provide a doctor’s fit note for their employer to make a claim under the scheme.

Employers can furlough their employees who have been advised to shield in line with public health guidance and are unable to work from home, under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. Once furloughed, the employee should no longer receive SSP and would be classified as a furloughed employee. Where an employee has been notified to shield and has not been furloughed, the rebate will compensate up to 2 weeks of SSP from 16 April 2020.

[1] For the period 13 March 2020 to 5 April 2020 the SSP rate was £94.25 per week

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/coronavirus-statutory-sick-pay-rebate-scheme-set-to-launch

£500m Future Fund clears crucial state aid hurdle

The government's new vehicle for backing fast-growing UK companies will launch next week after clearing a crucial state aid hurdle that will pave the way for investments by hundreds of venture capital funds.

The final terms of the £500m Future Fund - to which the chancellor, Rishi Sunak, has pledged £250m of taxpayers' money - will be announced on Monday.

Technology company investors said that Enterprise Capital Funds, which include private investors and public money from the British Business Bank (BBB) had been deemed eligible for Future Fund investment following talks in recent days.

One senior tech figure said the Treasury had been seeking clarity over whether the inclusion of ECFs in the new programme would breach EU state aid rules.

Industry sources said they had been briefed on the development on Friday.

The scale of the ECF's existing investments, which comprise a significant proportion of the UK venture capital landscape, mean its eligibility will substantially expand the number of companies which can seek money from the new vehicle.

Under the Future Fund's terms, companies will be able to apply to it for match-funding of between £125,000 and £5m, with the loans ultimately converting into discounted equity if they are not repaid.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-500m-future-fund-clears-crucial-state-aid-hurdle-11989556

Guidance for employees, employers and businesses

The Government has updated its Guidance on support for businesses and the self-employed.

This guidance will assist employers and businesses in providing advice to their staff on:

  • coronavirus COVID-19
  • how to help prevent spread of COVID-19
  • what to do if someone has symptoms of COVID-19 has been in business settings
  • eligibility for sick pay

This guidance also provides details of support available to businesses including:

  • a Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme
  • deferring VAT and Self-Assessment payments
  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme
  • statutory sick pay relief package for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
  • a 12-month business rates holiday for all retail, hospitality, leisure and nursery businesses in England
  • small business grant funding of £10,000 for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
  • grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme to support long-term viable businesses who may need to respond to cash-flow pressures by seeking additional finance
  • a new lending facility from the Bank of England to help support liquidity among larger firms, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans
  • the HMRC Time To Pay Scheme to help with tax

See: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19

It is clear that this guidance will be updated regularly as the situation changes and you are asked to refer to the web page above regularly for updates.

Advice for the freight transport industry

Freight industry guidance on international travel during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, following government advice for British nationals.

International and domestic freight transport (including by air, ship, road, and rail, including roll-on/roll-off transports) is classified by UK government as an essential activity in the context of its travel advice. The advice against non-essential travel is not intended to apply to international and domestic freight transport.

FCO travel advice remains under constant review and is being updated regularly with the latest information on restrictions and other measures in place in each country/territory. Check the latest travel advice and sign up for email alerts for all countries where you are travelling.

See guidance: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-guidance-on-freight-transport

Self-employed deferment of second payment on account

Option for self-employed to defer their second payment on account due 31 July 2020

Choose how and when you can delay making your second payment on account for the 2019 to 2020 tax year.

You have the option to defer your second payment on account if you are:

  • registered in the UK for Self-Assessment and
  • finding it difficult to make your second payment on account by 31 July 2020 due to the impact of coronavirus

You can still make the payment by 31 July 2020 as normal if you are able to do so.

HMRC will not charge interest or penalties on any amount of the deferred payment on account, provided it is paid on or before 31 January 2021.

If you want to pay in full

You can pay your second payment on account bill in full any time between 31 July 2020 and 31 January 2021 using the online service.

If you want to pay in instalments

You need to contact HMRC if you already have overdue tax which you are paying through a Time to Pay instalment arrangement and want to include your second payment on account in that arrangement.

If you do not have other overdue taxes, you can make your payment in instalments any time between now and 31 January 2021 by setting up a budget payment plan.

Payments made by Direct Debit

If you choose to defer and normally make your payments on account by Direct Debit, you should cancel your Direct Debit through your bank as soon as possible so that HMRC will not automatically collect any payment due. You can cancel online if you are registered for online banking.

After the deferral ends

The usual interest, penalties and collection procedures will apply to missed payments.

How to get help

If you are still struggling to pay your tax bill by 31 January 2021, or you’re experiencing other financial difficulties you can contact HMRC’s Time to Pay service.

Telephone: 0300 200 3835

Full text: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/defer-your-self-assessment-payment-on-account-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Statement from Stockport Council regarding Local Discretionary Grants Fund

Stockport Council have issued the following statement regarding the top-up for the business grants scheme – referred to as Local Authority Discretionary Grants Fund.

“Following the Government announcement on 01/05/20 about a top up grant for businesses that are not eligible for other grants, the guidance to local authorities was released to the Council on 13/05/2020. We are now preparing a local scheme which will be available shortly.”

The guidance from Government indicates that these grants are primarily and predominantly aimed at: 

  • Small and micro businesses, as defined in Section 33 Part 2 of the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Act 2015 and the Companies Act 2006. 

  • Businesses with relatively high ongoing fixed property-related costs.

  • Businesses which can demonstrate that they have suffered a significant fall in income due to the COVID-19 crisis.
    • Businesses which occupy property, or part of a property, with a rateable value or annual rent or annual mortgage payments below £51,000.

The Council is aiming to publish eligibility criteria and guidance on making applications for the discretionary grant, including the evidence required in support of applications, on its website by 5pm on Monday 18/05/2020.

The information published on Monday will set out the criteria for which priority businesses are eligible to apply, the application process and the date from which applications can be made.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/statement-from-stockport-council-regarding-local-discretionary-grants-fund/

Updated Guidance On Which Employees You Can Put On Furlough To Use The CJRS

Find out which employees you can put on furlough and claim for through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/check-which-employees-you-can-put-on-furlough-to-use-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

This is a summary of information on the Government website.

Employees you can claim for

You can only claim for furloughed employees that were employed on 19 March 2020 and who were on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means a Real Time Information (RTI) submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. If you had employees that were employed on 28 February 2020 but not on 19 March 2020, please see the section below on employees who were made redundant or stopped working for you after 28 February 2020.

Was the employee employed with you as of this date?

Date RTI submission notifying payment was made to HMRC

Eligible for CJRS?

28 February 2020

On or before 28 February 2020

Yes

28 February 2020

On or before 19 March 2020

Yes

28 February 2020

On or after 20 March 2020

No

19 March 2020

On or before 19 March 2020

Yes

19 March 2020

On or after 20 March 2020

No

On or after 20 March 2020

On or after 20 March 2020

No

If you made employees redundant or they stopped working for you after 28 February

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 28 February 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages from the date on which you furloughed them, even if you do not re-employ them until after 19 March 2020.

This applies as long as the employee was on your PAYE payroll as at 28 February 2020, which means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 28 February 2020. If your employee stopped working for you and was on a fixed term contract, you should also refer to the section ‘If your employee is on a fixed term contract’ below.

If you made employees redundant or they stopped working for you after 19 March 2020

If you made employees redundant, or they stopped working for you on or after 19 March 2020, you can re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme from the date on which you furloughed them.

This applies as long as the employee was employed on 19 March 2020 and was on your PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020. This means an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee to HMRC must have been made on or before 19 March 2020. If your employee stopped working for you and was on a fixed term contract, you should also refer to the section ‘If your employee is on a fixed term contract’ below.

If your employee is on a fixed term contract

An employee on a fixed term contract can be re-employed, furloughed, and claimed for if either:

  • their contract expired after 28 February 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 28 February 2020
  • their contract expired after 19 March 2020 and an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020

If the employee’s fixed term contract has not already expired, it can be extended, or renewed. You can claim for them if an RTI payment submission for the employee was notified to HMRC on or before 19 March 2020.

Employees that started and ended the same contract between 28 February 2020 and 19 March 2020 will not qualify for this scheme. This is not specific to employees on fixed-term contracts, the same would apply to employees on all other contracts.

If your employee had multiple employers over the last year

If an employee has had multiple employers over the past year, has only worked for one of them at any one time, and is being furloughed by their current employer, their former employer/s should not re-employ them, put them on furlough and claim for their wages through the scheme.

If your employees are working reduced hours

If an employee is working, but on reduced hours, or for reduced pay, they will not be eligible for this scheme.

If your employee has more than one job

If your employee has more than one employer they can be furloughed for each job. Each job is separate, and the cap applies to each employer individually.

Employees can be furloughed in one job and receive a furloughed payment but continue working for another employer and receive their normal wages.

If you employ apprentices

Apprentices can be furloughed in the same way as other employees and they can continue to train whist furloughed.

However, you must pay your Apprentices at least the Apprenticeship Minimum Wage/National Living Wage/National Minimum Wage (AMW/NLW/NMW) as appropriate for all the time they spend training. This means you must cover any shortfall between the amount you can claim for their wages through this scheme and their appropriate minimum wage.

Guidance is available for changes in apprenticeship learning arrangements because of coronavirus (COVID-19) in:

If your employee does volunteer work

A furloughed employee can take part in volunteer work, if it does not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

You cannot furlough your employee and then ask them to volunteer for you in the same or a different role.

If your employee does training

Furloughed employees can engage in training, as long as in undertaking the training the employee does not provide services to, or generate revenue for, or on behalf of their organisation or a linked or associated organisation. Furloughed employees should be encouraged to undertake training.

Where training is undertaken by furloughed employees, at the request of their employer, they are entitled to be paid at least their appropriate national minimum wage for this time. In most cases, the furlough payment of 80% of an employee’s regular wage, up to the value of £2,500, will provide sufficient monies to cover these training hours. However, where the time spent training attracts a minimum wage entitlement in excess of the furlough payment, employers will need to pay the additional wages (see National Minimum Wage Section for more details).

Furloughed employees working as union or non-union representatives

Whilst on furlough, employees who are union or non-union representatives may undertake duties and activities for the purpose of individual or collective representation of employees or other workers. However, in doing this, they must not provide services to or generate revenue for, or on behalf of your organisation or a linked or associated organisation.

If your employee’s health has been affected by coronavirus
(COVID-19)

If your employee is shielding

Employees who are unable to work because they are shielding in line with public health guidance (or need to stay home with someone who is shielding) can be furloughed.

If your employee has caring responsibilities

Employees who are unable to work because they have caring responsibilities resulting from coronavirus (COVID-19) can be furloughed. For example, employees that need to look after children can be furloughed.

If your employee becomes sick while furloughed

Furloughed employee retain their statutory rights, including their right to Statutory Sick Pay. This means that furloughed employees who become ill must be paid at least Statutory Sick Pay. It is up to employers to decide whether to move these employees onto Statutory Sick Pay or to keep them on furlough, at their furloughed rate.

If a furloughed employee who becomes sick is moved onto SSP, employers can no longer claim for the furloughed salary. Employers are required to pay SSP themselves, although may qualify for a rebate for up to 2 weeks of SSP. If employers keep the sick furloughed employee on the furloughed rate, they remain eligible to claim for these costs through the furloughed scheme.

If your employee is on leave

If your employee is on unpaid leave

If an employee started unpaid leave after 28 February 2020, you can put them on furlough instead. If you put them on furlough then you should pay them at least 80% of their regular wages, up to the monthly cap of £2500.

If an employee went on unpaid leave on or before 28 February, you cannot furlough them until the date on which it was agreed they would return from unpaid leave.

If your employee is self-isolating or on sick leave

If your employee is on sick leave or self-isolating as a result of Coronavirus, they will be able to get Statutory Sick Pay, subject to other eligibility conditions applying. The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is not intended for short-term absences from work due to sickness, and there is a 3-week minimum furlough period.

Short term illness/self-isolation should not be a consideration in deciding whether to furlough an employee. If, however, employers want to furlough employees for business reasons and they are currently off sick, they are eligible to do so, as with other employees. In these cases, the employee should no longer receive sick pay and would be classified as a furloughed employee.

Employers are also entitled to furlough employees who are being shielded or off on long-term sick leave. It is up to employers to decide whether to furlough these employees. You can claim back from both the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and the SSP rebate scheme for the same employee but not for the same period of time. When an employee is on furlough, you can only reclaim expenditure through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, and not the SSP rebate scheme. If a non-furloughed employee becomes ill, needs to self-isolate or be shielded, then you might qualify for the SSP rebate scheme, enabling you to claim up to two weeks of SSP per employee.

If your employee is on maternity leave, adoption leave, paternity leave, shared parental leave or parental bereavement leave

The normal rules for maternity and other forms of parental leave and pay apply.

Although, you may need to calculate your employee’s average weekly earnings differently, if your employee was furloughed and then started leave on or after 25 April 2020 for:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay
  • parental bereavement pay

You can claim through the scheme for enhanced (earnings related) contractual pay for employees who qualify for either:

  • maternity pay
  • adoption pay
  • paternity pay
  • shared parental pay
  • parental bereavement pay

If your employee gets Maternity Allowance

If your employee is getting Maternity Allowance while they are on maternity leave, they should not get furlough pay at the same time.

If your employee has agreed to be put on furlough, tell them to contact Jobcentre Plus to stop their Maternity Allowance payments.

If your employee agrees to be put on furlough and end their maternity leave early, they will need to give you at least 8 weeks’ notice and they will not be eligible for furlough pay until the end of the 8 weeks.

Individuals you can claim for who are not employees

As well as employees, the grant can be claimed for any of the following groups, if they are paid via PAYE: office holders (including company directors), salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs), agency workers (including those employed by umbrella companies), and limb (b) workers.

The guidance below sets out specific considerations for those individuals who are paid via PAYE, but who are not necessarily employees in employment law. Unless explicitly set out below, all other guidance is applicable to these cases, and should be followed.

Office holders

Office holders can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. The furlough, and any ongoing payment during furlough, will need to be agreed between the office holder and the party who operates PAYE on the income they receive for holding their office. Where the office holder is a company director or member of a Limited Liability Partnership (LLP), the furlough arrangements should be adopted formally as a decision of the company or LLP.

Company directors

As office holders, salaried company directors are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme. Company directors owe duties to their company which are set out in the Companies Act 2006. Where a company (acting through its board of directors) considers that it is in compliance with the statutory duties of one or more of its individual salaried directors, the board can decide that such directors should be furloughed. Where one or more individual directors’ furlough is so decided by the board, this should be formally adopted as a decision of the company, noted in the company records, and communicated in writing to the director(s) concerned.

Where furloughed directors need to carry out particular duties to fulfil the statutory obligations they owe to their company, they may do so provided they do no more than would reasonably be judged necessary for that purpose, i.e. they should not do work of a kind they would carry out in normal circumstances to generate commercial revenue or provides services to or on behalf of their company.

This also applies to salaried individuals who are directors of their own personal service company (PSC).

Company directors with an annual pay period

Those paid annually are eligible to claim, as long as they meet the relevant conditions. This includes being notified to HMRC on an RTI submission on or before 19 March 2020, which relates to a payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year. The requirement for there to be payment of earnings in the 19/20 tax year applies for any employee being claimed for under the scheme, irrespective of how frequently they are paid (e.g. weekly, fortnightly, or monthly). This will be relevant for those on an annual pay period if the last payment notified to RTI was before 5 April 2019 and no further payments were notified until after 19 March 2020.

An employer can make their claim in anticipation of an imminent payroll run, at the point they run their payroll or after they have run their payroll.

Salaried members of Limited Liability Partnerships (LLPs)

Members of LLPs who are designated as employees for tax purposes (‘salaried members’) under the Income Tax (Trading and Other Income) Act (ITTOIA) 2005 are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.

The rights and duties of a member of an LLP are set out in an LLP agreement and in the absence of an agreement, default provisions in the LLP Act 2000, based upon company and partnership law. Such an agreement may include separate agreement between the LLP and an individual member setting out the terms applicable to that member’s relationship with the LLP.

To furlough a member, the terms of the LLP agreement (or any such agreement between the LLP and the member) may need to be varied by a formal decision of the LLP, for example to reflect the fact that the member will perform no work in the LLP for the period of furlough, and the effect of this on their remuneration from the LLP. For an LLP member who is treated as being employed by the LLP (in accordance with s863A of ITTOIA 2005), the reference salary for this scheme is the LLP member’s profit allocation, excluding any amounts which are determined by the LLP member’s performance, or the overall performance of the LLP.

Agency Workers (including those employed by umbrella companies)

Where agency workers are paid through PAYE, they are eligible to be furloughed and receive support through this scheme, including where they are employed by umbrella companies.

Furlough should be agreed between the agency, as the deemed employer, and the worker, though it would be advised to discuss the need to furlough with any end clients involved. As with employees, agency workers should perform no work for, through or on behalf of the agency that has furloughed them while they are furloughed, including performing such work through or on behalf of the agency for the agency’s clients.

Where an agency supplies clients with workers who are employed by an umbrella company that operates the PAYE, it will be for the umbrella company and the worker to agree whether to furlough the worker or not.

Limb (b) Workers

Where Limb (b) Workers are paid through PAYE, they can be furloughed and receive support through this scheme.

Those who pay tax on their trading profits through Income Tax Self-Assessment, may instead be eligible for the Self-Employed Income Support Scheme (SEISS), announced by the Chancellor on 26 March 2020.

Contingent workers in the public sector

The Cabinet Office has issued guidance on how payments to suppliers of contingent workers impacted by COVID-19 should be dealt with where the party receiving the contingent worker’s services is a Central Government Department, an Executive Agency of a Central Government Department or a Non-Departmental Public Body.

Read more information on contingent workers impacted by COVID-19. This guidance applies to agency workers paid through PAYE, as well as those paid through umbrella companies on PAYE and off-payroll workers supplying their services through a Personal Service Company (PSC).

Contractors with public sector engagements in scope of IR35 off-payroll working rules (IR35)

Public sector bodies will follow the Crown Commercial Services guidance in the vast majority of cases. In a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, it may be appropriate to claim under the CJRS. Contractors who are deemed employees according to the off payroll working rules might be eligible for this scheme.

In this scenario, if the public sector organisation wished to furlough a contractor, they would have to confirm this with both the contractor’s Personal Service Company (PSC) and the fee-payer (as set out in the off-payroll working rules, usually the agency paying the contractor’s PSC). It should be formally agreed between these parties that the contractor is to do no work for the public sector organisation during their period of furlough. The fee-payer would be able to apply for the furlough payment of 80% of the monthly contract value, up to a maximum of £2,500, as well as the employer NICs on that subsidised wage. The fee-payer would then pay at least the amount of wage-grant received to the PSC and report the payment via PAYE using the contractor’s details, making the usual tax and National Insurance contributions (NICs) deductions for contracts in scope of the off-payroll rules. The PSC would then be required to report the amount it pays to the contractor as deemed employment income via PAYE using box 58A on the PAYE Real Time Information return.

Where a contractor is continuing to receive payments from a public sector client (including through the CJRS or other any other scheme), income from this client should be excluded from any calculation of the reference pay for the purposes of the CJRS if the contractor also decides to furlough themselves as an employee or director of their own company.

If you’ve consolidated your payroll and have new employees on it

Where a group of companies have multiple PAYE schemes and there is a transfer of all employees from these schemes into a new consolidated PAYE scheme after 28 February 2020, the new scheme will be eligible to furlough those employees and claim the grants available under the CJRS.

Employee transfers under TUPE and on a change in ownership

A new employer is eligible to claim under the CJRS in respect of the employees of a previous business transferred after 28 February 2020 if either the TUPE or PAYE business succession rules apply to the change in ownership.

After you have checked which employees you can claim for

Once you know whether you can put your employees on furlough and claim through the scheme for their wages, you should agree this with them before you start your claim.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Check if you can claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme and find out how to claim.


14/05/2020

Economic recovery after the COVID-19 crisis

The topic now under discussion among economists is ‘what shape will the economic recession and recovery take once the COVID-19 crisis is over?’ There is no definitive answer yet, but we can look forward by discussing these shapes in this blog.

Firstly, you should know that ‘shape’, as mentioned above, refers to the letters V, W, U and L. In economic science, each of these letters represents the shape of a chart of economic measures economists create when judging recessions and recoveries. We’ll discuss all the relevant shapes here and start with the letter V.

V: the best-case scenario

During a V-shaped recession, the economy suffers a sudden and sharp economic decline, but quickly and strongly recovers. Such recoveries are generally encouraged by a significant shift in economic activity caused by increased consumer demand and spending. If this is the shape of things to come after the COVID-19 crisis, we can expect a sharp rise in GDP growth in 2021. However, this recovery depends on the following conditions:

  • The lockdowns manage to restrain the virus and are therefore limited to Q1 and Q2 of 2020;
  • There are no lockdowns required in 2021;
  • The financial system and supply side of the economy survive the crisis mostly ‘unhurt’.

Example

The V-shaped recession of 1953

The 1953 US recession is a clear V-shaped example. In the early 1950s, the economy was booming, but the Federal Reserve anticipated inflation and thus raised interest rates. Growth began to slow in the Q3 of 1953, resulting in recession, but by the fourth quarter of 1954, it was back at a pace above the trend.

W: a double-dip recession

A W-shaped recession takes off in the same way as a V-shaped recession and then turns back down again after showing false hints of recovery. In other words: the economy drops twice before it reaches the road to full recovery. This is why W-shaped recessions are also called ‘double-dip recessions’.

Twice the pain
One of the biggest pitfalls of a double-dip recession is that investors tend to jump back into the markets after they believe the economy has reached the bottom, which isn’t the case. They end up getting burned twice: first on the way down and secondly after the false recovery.

The bathtUb recession

A U-shaped recession looks like its V-shaped counterpart but lasts longer. In this case, GDP is likely to shrink for several quarters in a row, and only gradually returns to the growth level seen before the downturn. The US had a U-shaped recession in 1973. At the start of this year, the national economy began to contract distinctly and slowly and leanly grew for almost two years. It only returned to its previous growth expansion rate in 1975.

You go in, you stay in. The sides are slippery. Maybe there’s some bumpy stuff at the bottom, but you don’t come out of the bathtub for a long time.

Simon Johnson, a former chief economist for the IMF.

L: worst-case scenario

Of all shapes, the L represents the worst-case scenario because of a drastic drop in economic growth and the lack of recovery for a significant period of time. This is why an L-shaped recession is called a depression.

Back to full employment
One of the most critical features that define an L-shaped scenario is a failure of the economy to progress back to full employment after a recession. In this situation, large numbers of employees remain unemployed for a long time or even leave the workforce entirely. As a result, factories and equipment stand idle or underutilised for extended time-frames as well, worsening the depression.

Example

The bubble that burst

Japan suffered an L-shaped recession in the 1990s. The country had seen substantial economic growth in the years after World War Two until the end of the 80s. That led to what turned out to be a massive over-pricing of assets or a so-called ‘bubble’. This bubble burst in the early 1990s and as a result, Japan is still not growing as fast as in the period from 1950 to 1990.

What’s the shape of things to come?
Which of these recessions we will actually see in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic is, unsurprisingly, the subject of debate among economists. We will, of course, keep you informed on this topic. If you have any questions about it, feel free to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

https://www.xeinadin-group.com/inspiration/economic-recovery-after-the-covid-19-crisis/

Closing certain businesses and venues in England

As a country, we all need to do what we can to reduce the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).

The government has set out its plan to return life to as near normal as we can, as quickly and fairly as possible in order to safeguard livelihoods, but in a way that is safe and continues to protect our NHS. The strategy sets out a roadmap to easing existing measures in phases and as part of that, we are all advised to follow guidelines to stay alert and safe.

The government has also given clear guidance on self-isolation, and asked that schools only remain open for those children who absolutely need to attend.

All businesses and venues outlined in the table in the link below must not open to the public: failure to follow the law relating to these closures can lead to the individual responsible for the business being issued a prohibition notice, a fixed penalty notice or prosecution.

Takeaway and delivery services may remain open and operational in line with guidance in the link. Online retail and click and collect services may continue.

Employers who have people in their offices or onsite are advised to ensure that employees are able to follow the government’s guidelines on working safely.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close/further-businesses-and-premises-to-close-guidance

Making businesses ‘COVID Secure’

On Sunday, Boris Johnson announced that the UK would take ‘baby steps’ to reduce lockdown and to get businesses up and running again. 

Although the message remains that anyone who can work from home should continue to do so, he announced that those that cannot do so should be actively encouraged to go to work. 

This means that businesses in construction, manufacturing, engineering and a number of other areas can start work again, but they must ensure that they are ‘COVID Secure’.

What does ‘COVID Secure’ mean’?

Businesses are responsible for ensuring that their places of work are safe.

Prior to returning to work, all businesses will be required to complete a COVID-19 risk assessment. Templates are available from the HSE (Health & Safety Executive) website. For businesses with over 50 employees, it is expected that, where possible, this is published on their website. There is also a certificate/poster which can be downloaded and displayed to confirm your compliance with guidance. The HSE will be carrying out random inspections, so it is vitally important to take these guidelines seriously. Employees will also be able to report any unsafe conditions. 

The government has published guidance for employers in 8 specific workplace settings to help you to get your business back up and running safely. These can be found on the government website and are incredibly detailed.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/working-safely-during-coronavirus-covid-19

As a summary, the main points to consider are:

  • Travel to Work - Public transport should be avoided where possible. Employees are encouraged to drive, walk or cycle. Where this is not possible, face coverings should be worn, and individuals should keep 2m apart.
  • Adhere to Social Distancing Rules in the Workplace – this may mean that you will have to consider some of the following:
    • Re-designing the work place so that, wherever possible, individuals are always 2m apart. This includes work areas; rest areas; toilets and walk ways. Where not possible, you should manage the transmission risk.
    • Staggered start and finish times – perhaps consider whether shifts are appropriate.
    • Consider ‘fixed teams’ to reduce contact with different people.
    • Build in one-way systems.
    • Increase number of entrances and exits.
    • Sit people back to back.
    • Introduce screens (above head height to be affective).
    • Restrict meetings and visitors – use video conferencing as an alternative.
  • Increased Hygiene:
    • Provide hand sanitisers/face coverings.
    • Encourage regular handwashing.
    • Increased cleaning of workplace, paying close attention to high-contact objects.
    • Ask employees to bring in their own food, drink and utensils.
  • Consider the Psychological Impact – many employees may be anxious and nervous about returning to work and so it is vital to ensure that you listen to their worries and communicate your dedication to ensuring their safety at work.

What if some of my employees cannot come back to work as they have children to look after?

The government has acknowledged that this is an obvious barrier to an employee being able to come back to work and has advised employers to be ‘understanding’.

If your employee is currently on furlough, then consider keeping them on the scheme. Alternatively, you could consider flexible working arrangements.

What if some of my employees cannot come back to work as they are vulnerable and are shielding?

Those in the clinically extremely vulnerable cohort will continue to be advised to shield themselves for some time yet and the Government will continue to monitor this.

How do I get my employees off furlough?

There is no specific notice required to take someone off furlough. However, it would be reasonable to give them as much notice as possible, so that they can organise their personal affairs.

Also, be mindful, that in order to claim under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, an employee needs to have been on furlough for a 3-week period. This may have an impact on your chosen return to work date.

Once a date for return has been agreed, confirm this in writing.

Is there an update on the furlough scheme?

Following an announcement by the Chancellor today, it has been confirmed that the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme has been extended by 4 months until the end of Oct 2020. The scheme rules currently in place are applicable until the end of July. From Aug to Oct there will be greater flexibility, further details to follow.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk

Managing risks and risk assessment at work

As an employer, you’re required by law to protect your employees, and others, from harm.

Under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, the minimum you must do is:

  • identify what could cause injury or illness in your business (hazards)
  • decide how likely it is that someone could be harmed and how seriously (the risk)
  • take action to eliminate the hazard, or if this isn’t possible, control the risk

Assessing risk is just one part of the overall process used to control risks in your workplace.

For most small, low-risk businesses the steps you need to take are straightforward and are explained in these pages.

If your business is larger or higher-risk, you can find detailed guidance here.

If you’re self-employed, check if health and safety law applies to you.

Holiday entitlement and pay during coronavirus

This guidance outlines how holiday entitlement and pay operate during the coronavirus pandemic. It is designed to help employers understand their legal obligations, in terms of workers who:

This guidance should not be treated as legal advice. Employers and workers should always check individual contracts and if necessary seek independent legal advice.

Holiday entitlement

Almost all workers, including zero-hour contracted workers and those on irregular hours contracts, are legally entitled to 5.6 weeks’ paid holiday per year. The exception is those who are genuinely self-employed.

For the purposes of calculating holiday entitlement, the statutory 5.6 weeks entitlement is split into 4 weeks derived from EU law, and an additional 1.6 weeks from UK law. This guidance focuses on the legal minimum entitlement of 5.6 weeks. Many workers have contracts that entitle them to additional paid holiday beyond this, known as contractual holiday entitlement. Workers and employers can agree to alter the terms of the worker’s contract, providing it does not go below the statutory minimum of 5.6 weeks.

A worker has the same holiday entitlement, regardless of whether they are on sick leave, maternity leave, parental leave and adoption leave, and other types of statutory leave. A worker may request holiday at the same time they are on sick leave but cannot be required to take it while off sick.

Furloughed workers

Workers who have been placed on furlough continue to accrue statutory holiday entitlements, and any additional holiday provided for under their employment contract. Use the government holiday entitlement calculator to calculate a worker’s statutory holiday entitlement.

Taking holiday

Employers can:

  • require workers to take holiday
  • cancel a worker’s holiday, if they give enough notice to the worker

The required notice periods are:

  • double the length of the holiday if the employer wishes to require a worker to take holiday on particular days
  • the length of the planned holiday if the employer wishes to cancel a worker’s holiday or require the worker not to take holiday on particular dates

Employers can ask workers to take or cancel holiday with less notice but need the workers’ agreement to do so.

These notice periods are in advance of the first day of the holiday, and the notice must be given before the notice period starts. For example, if an employer wanted to prevent a worker taking a week’s holiday, they would have to give notice earlier than 1 week before the first day of the holiday. For the purposes of calculating the notice period, any uninterrupted period of holiday counts as a single period. These rules on notice periods can be altered by a binding written agreement between the employer and the worker.

Furloughed workers

Workers on furlough can take holiday without disrupting their furlough. The notice requirements for their employer requiring a worker to take leave or to refuse a request for leave continue to apply. Employers should engage with their workforce and explain reasons for wanting them to take leave before requiring them to do so.

If an employer requires a worker to take holiday while on furlough, the employer should consider whether any restrictions the worker is under, such as the need to socially distance or self-isolate, would prevent the worker from resting, relaxing and enjoying leisure time, which is the fundamental purpose of holiday.

Bank holidays

There is no statutory right to time off for bank holidays. Employers can include bank holidays as part of a workers’ statutory holiday entitlement if they choose, but do not have to do so.

Where necessary, employers can require workers who would usually take bank holidays as holiday to work instead, using the standard notice periods. Employers must still ensure that the workers receive their statutory holiday entitlement for the year.

Example

A worker who would usually receive bank holidays as part of their statutory holiday entitlement is required by their employer to work on the 8 May 2020, a bank holiday. The worker’s employer is then required to give the worker an additional day of annual leave later in the leave year, to ensure that the worker does not fall below the statutory minimum for the year.

Furloughed workers

Where a bank holiday falls inside a worker’s period of furlough and the worker would have usually worked the bank holiday, their furlough will be unaffected by the bank holiday.

However, if the worker would usually have had the bank holiday as annual leave, there are 2 options.

The bank holiday is taken as annual leave

If the employer and the worker agree that the bank holiday can be taken as annual leave while on furlough, the employer must pay the correct holiday pay for the worker. Employers may also require workers to take the bank holiday as annual leave with the correct notice periods.

The bank holiday is deferred

If the employer and the worker agree that the bank holiday will not be taken as annual leave at that time, the worker must still receive the day of annual leave that they would have received. This holiday can be deferred till a later date, but the worker should still receive their full holiday entitlement.

Holiday pay

The amount of pay that a worker receives for the holiday they take depends on the number of hours they work and how they are paid for those hours. The principle is that pay received by a worker while they are on holiday should reflect what they would have earned if they had been at work and working.

Holiday pay, whether the worker is on furlough or not, should be calculated in line with current legislation - see the standard guidance, based on a worker’s usual earnings. The underlying principle is that a worker should not be financially worse off through taking holiday. Where a worker has regular hours and pay, their holiday pay would be calculated based on these hours. If they have variable hours or pay, their holiday pay is calculated as an average of the previous 52-weeks of remuneration excluding weeks in which there was no remuneration.

Furloughed workers

An employer should not automatically pay a worker on holiday the rate of pay that they are receiving while on furlough, unless the employer has agreed to not reduce the worker’s pay while on furlough.

If a worker on furlough takes annual leave, an employer must calculate and pay the correct holiday pay in accordance with current legislation - see the standard guidance. Where this calculated rate is above the pay the worker receives while on furlough, the employer must pay the difference. However, as taking holiday does not break the furlough period, the employer can continue to claim the 80% grant from the government to cover most of the cost of holiday pay.

Carrying annual leave into future leave years

The 5.6 weeks of statutory holiday is split into 4 weeks and 1.6 weeks, and there are some differences in the rules that apply:

  • the 1.6 weeks can be carried forward into the following leave year if a written agreement exists between the worker and the employer
  • generally, the 4 weeks cannot be carried into future leave years, so employers must facilitate these weeks being taken within the relevant leave year

However under certain circumstances employers must allow the 4 weeks to be carried into future leave years. Where a worker cannot take annual leave due to them being on maternity leave or sick, employers must still allow workers to carry their annual leave forwards. These rights remain unaffected by a worker being furloughed.

Carrying leave forwards: how new legislation has changed the rules

The government has passed new emergency legislation to ensure businesses have the flexibility they need to respond to the coronavirus pandemic and to protect workers from losing their statutory holiday entitlement (The Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020, laid before Parliament on 27 March 2020). These regulations enable workers to carry holiday forward where the impact of coronavirus means that it has not been reasonably practicable to take it in the leave year to which it relates.

Where it has not been reasonably practicable for the worker to take some or all of the 4 weeks’ holiday due to the effects of coronavirus, the untaken amount may be carried forward into the following 2 leave years. When calculating how much holiday a worker can carry forwards, employers must give workers the opportunity to take any leave that they cannot carry forward before the end of the leave year.

What is reasonably practicable?

When considering whether it was not reasonably practicable for a worker to take leave as a result of the coronavirus, so that they may carry untaken holiday into future leave years, an employer should consider various factors, such as:

  • whether the business has faced a significant increase in demand due to coronavirus that would reasonably require the worker to continue to be at work and cannot be met through alternative practical measures
  • the extent to which the business’ workforce is disrupted by the coronavirus and the practical options available to the business to provide temporary cover of essential activities
  • the health of the worker and how soon they need to take a period of rest and relaxation
  • the length of time remaining in the worker’s leave year, to enable the worker to take holiday at a later date within the leave year
  • the extent to which the worker taking leave would impact on wider society’s response to, and recovery from, the coronavirus situation
  • the ability of the remainder of the available workforce to provide cover for the worker going on leave

Employers should do everything reasonably practicable to ensure that the worker is able to take as much of their leave as possible in the year to which it relates, and where leave is carried forward, it is best practice to give workers the opportunity to take holiday at the earliest practicable opportunity.

Furloughed workers

Workers who are on furlough are unlikely to need to carry forward statutory annual leave, as they will be able to take it during the furlough period (in most cases at least - see Taking holiday on assessing whether a furloughed worker can take holiday). However, to do so they must be paid the correct holiday pay which is likely to be higher than the rate of pay that will be covered by government grants, with the employer making up the difference - see Holiday pay.

If, due to the impact of coronavirus on operations, the employer is unable to fund the difference, it is likely that this would make it not reasonably practicable for the worker to take their leave, enabling the worker to carry their annual leave forwards.

In this situation, the worker must still be given the opportunity to take their annual leave, at the correct holiday pay, before the carried annual leave is lost at the end of the next 2 leave years.

Examples of what may be reasonably practicable

Example 1

A worker has 2 weeks of holiday left under regulation 13, and their leave year expires in 2 months. Owing to the coronavirus, a significant proportion of the employer’s workforce is unable to work during those 2 months. The employer assesses what steps it could reasonably take to manage the 2-month period, and this assessment shows that it is not reasonably practicable for the worker to take both weeks of holiday in what is left of the worker’s leave year. They agree that the worker will take one week in the remaining part of the leave year, and that the other week will be carried forwards to be taken as early as possible in the following leave year, when the situation allows.

Example 2

A worker has just started a new leave year, and as such has their full leave entitlement to take over the next 12 months. Their employer experiences a significant short-term increase in demand that is anticipated to last for 3 months.

The employer agrees with the worker that while it will not be practicable to take holiday in the 3 months where demand has increased, it will be possible for the worker to utilise their full entitlement in the rest of the leave year, so there is no need to carry holiday forwards.

Handling leave that has been carried forward

When a worker carries leave forwards due to the coronavirus, they will continue to accrue holiday in the next leave year. As such, they will have 2 entitlements:

  • the holiday that has been carried forward that must be taken in the next 2 leave years
  • the entitlement that relates to the new leave year

Holiday pay for leave carried forward should be calculated in the same way as set out in Holiday pay.

Example

Owing to the coronavirus, a worker carries 2 weeks forward into their next leave year. In that leave year they will have a total of 7.6 weeks of statutory holiday entitlement:

  • the 2 weeks carried forward (‘carried holiday’)
  • the 5.6 weeks to which they are entitled in the new leave year

When a worker with multiple entitlements takes holiday, it is generally best practice to allow the worker to take holiday from the entitlement that expires first. In practice, this means that workers should be allowed to take the holiday to which they are entitled in the new leave year before they take the ‘carried’ holiday, as the ‘carried holiday’ entitlement lasts for 2 years.

However, ‘carried holiday’ is subject to further protections – to be able to refuse to allow a worker to take “carried holiday” on particular dates, the employer must have good reason.

The employer may request that the worker takes “carried holiday” instead of their regular entitlement. If they do so, the employer must still ensure that the worker receives their full regular entitlement in the leave year to which it relates, in addition to any carried holiday taken.

Where carried leave is carried into a further leave year, the employer must facilitate the worker taking their leave in that later year.

Giving notice to workers

There is no statutory requirement to give workers notice that they will be able to carry holiday forward if they do not take it. However, it is unlawful for employers to prevent workers from taking holiday to which they are entitled.

To ensure that workers do not lose the holiday entitlement that they are entitled to, it is best practice for employers to inform workers of both the need to carry forward, and how much leave will be carried.

Requiring workers to take annual leave

An employer’s ability to require a worker to take annual leave is unaffected by the ability to carry holiday into future leave years. Where it is reasonably practicable for a worker to take annual leave, employers should facilitate this.

Generally, employers remain able to require workers to take annual leave to ensure that holiday is taken in the leave year to which it relates. This is covered in more detail in Holiday pay.

Payment in lieu for carried leave

Carried leave is still subject to the usual rules around payment in lieu. An employer must facilitate the worker taking their annual leave and not replace it with a financial payment (known as payment in lieu).

However, if the worker leaves employment, the employer must pay the worker for any untaken leave. This will include the carried leave under the coronavirus exemption, along with any leave that the worker has accrued in the relevant leave year. The payment in respect of such untaken leave is based on a statutory formula set out in regulation 14 of the Working Time Regulations.

Furloughed agency workers

The CJRS does not alter the position as to whether or not agency workers, including those working through an umbrella company, are entitled to accrue holiday under the Working Time Regulations and / or under their contract.

Accrual of holiday during furlough

Where holiday rights exist under the regulations, they remain unchanged when workers are on furlough. Where agency workers are engaged under a contract of employment which sets out their entitlement to holiday, that is 5.6 weeks or more in accordance with the regulations, their contract will continue to operate as before and they will continue to accrue holiday on furlough as they would normally when between or otherwise not working on assignments.

Some agency workers on a contract for services may not be entitled to the accrual of holiday or to take holiday under the Working Time Regulations while on furlough because they are not workers or treated as workers under those regulations when between assignments or otherwise not working on assignments. Contracts may nevertheless include holiday provisions which will continue to operate in the same way as they did prior to the furlough period.

Taking holiday leave and receiving holiday pay during furlough

Agency workers who have worker status can take holiday they are entitled to under the regulations or their contract of employment while on furlough. Where a furloughed agency worker takes holiday, the employer who has placed the agency worker on to furlough may continue to claim the grant from HMRC. The grant can cover up to 80% of the worker’s wage cost, with the employer liable for holiday pay above this figure.

Employers have the flexibility to control when a worker is able to take leave, through the notice periods covered in Taking holiday. This is the same for agency workers, and employment businesses may refuse a worker to take leave provided this is permitted by the Working Time Regulations and the agency worker’s contract.

Agency workers may be able to carry holiday into future leave years as covered in the next section.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/holiday-entitlement-and-pay-during-coronavirus-covid-19

Government to support businesses through Trade Credit Insurance guarantee

Trade Credit Insurance provides cover to hundreds of thousands of business to business transactions, particularly in non-service sectors, such as manufacturing and construction. It insures suppliers selling goods against the company they are selling to defaulting on payment, giving businesses the confidence to trade with one another. But due to Coronavirus and businesses struggling to pay bills, they risk having credit insurance withdrawn, or premiums increasing to unaffordable levels.

To prevent this from happening, the government will temporarily guarantee business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, ensuring the majority of insurance coverage will be maintained across the market. This will support supply chains and help businesses to trade with confidence as they can trust that they will be protected if a customer defaults on payment.

The Economic Secretary to the Treasury, John Glen said:

This country’s businesses are crucial in helping us to kick start the economy as we get back to work, and I will do everything I can to help support them through this difficult time. By guaranteeing business-to-business transactions currently supported by Trade Credit Insurance, we will help to maintain a vital cog in our economy.

This is on top of an unprecedented package of support we have put in place to help protect individuals, businesses and the economy.

Business Minister, Paul Scully, said:

Giving businesses the confidence to continue trading is vital to seeing us through this crisis. This guarantee will be essential as we seek to reopen new sectors of the economy and get the UK back to work in a way that is safe for everyone.

The guarantee will be delivered through a temporary reinsurance agreement with insurers currently operating in the market.

The government will work with businesses and the industry on the full details of the scheme to ensure firms are supported and risk is appropriately shared between the government and insurers.

The guarantees will cover trading by domestic firms and exporting firms and the intent is for agreements to be in place with insurers by end of this month.

The guarantee will be temporary and targeted to cover CV-19 economic challenges, and will provisionally last until the end of the year. It will be followed by a review of the TCI market to ensure it can continue to support businesses in future. Further details will be announced in due course.

Further information

  • in whole of 2018 £450 million was paid in TCI premiums to cover over £350 billion in business activity
  • as of April 2020 there was over £171 billion business activity insured, covering transactions between around 13000 suppliers and 650,000 buyers

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/government-to-support-businesses-through-trade-credit-insurance-guarantee

Chancellor Extends Furlough Scheme Until October

The government’s Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will remain open until the end of October,

The key points announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak are:

  • Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will continue until end of October
  • furloughed workers across UK will continue to receive 80% of their current salary, up to £2,500
  • new flexibility will be introduced from August to get employees back to work and boost economy

The Government stated as we reopen the economy, we need to support people to get back to work. From the start of August, furloughed workers will be able to return to work part-time with employers being asked to pay a percentage towards the salaries of their furloughed staff.

The employer payments will substitute the contribution the government is currently making, ensuring that staff continue to receive 80% of their salary, up to £2,500 a month.

New statistics published today revealed the job retention scheme has protected 7.5 million workers and almost 1 million businesses.

The scheme will continue in its current form until the end of July and the changes to allow more flexibility will come in from the start of August.

More specific details and information around its implementation will be made available by the end of this month.

The government will explore ways through which furloughed workers who wish to do additional training or learn new skills are supported during this period. It will also continue to work closely with the Devolved Administrations to ensure the scheme supports people across the Union.

The Chancellor’s decision to extend the scheme, which will continue to apply across all regions and sectors in the UK economy, comes after the government outlined its plan for the next phase of its response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Full text see: https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-extends-furlough-scheme-until-october

Who should wear a face mask or face covering?

For the first time, people in England are being advised to wear face coverings in some enclosed spaces.

The Scottish government already recommends people wear them when in shops and on public transport.

What is the new advice?

The government for England says:

  • People should aim to wear face coverings on public transport and in some shops
  • Also in other "enclosed spaces where social distancing is not always possible and they come into contact with others that they do not normally meet"
  • "Social distancing" means staying more than two metres away from someone
  • Face coverings should be worn and not surgical masks or respirators which should be left for healthcare staff and other workers who need them

People do not need to wear face coverings where they are:

  • Outdoors or while exercising
  • In schools
  • In workplaces such as offices and shops
  • Children under two or primary aged children who cannot use them without assistance
  • People who have problems breathing while wearing a face covering

Advice in Wales has not changed and face coverings have not yet been recommended for the general public. People in Northern Ireland have been told to consider wearing face coverings if they are in places where they cannot social distance.

Why doesn't everyone wear a mask now?

The advice talks about face coverings, rather than masks.

The World Health Organization (WHO) currently says only two groups of people should wear protective masks, those who are:

  • sick and showing symptoms
  • caring for people suspected to have coronavirus

It says medical masks should be reserved for healthcare workers.

Masks are not generally recommended for the public because:

  • they can be contaminated by other people's coughs and sneezes, or when putting them on or removing them
  • frequent hand-washing and social distancing are more effective
  • they might offer a false sense of security

But that doesn't mean they have no benefit at all for the general public - it's just that the scientific evidence is weak.

Homemade cloth face-coverings can help reduce the risk of transmission in some circumstances - they might help stop the spread of coronavirus by people who are contagious but have no symptoms (known as asymptomatic transmission).

Scientists in Singapore suggest that risk is especially high in the 24-48 hours before an infected person is even aware they might have the disease.

Coronavirus is spread by droplets that can spray into the air when those infected talk, cough and sneeze. These can enter the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, either directly or after touching a contaminated object.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-51205344


12/05/2020

Working safely during coronavirus (COVID-19)

Guidance to help employers, employees and the self-employed understand how to work safely during the coronavirus pandemic.

The government, in consultation with industry, has produced guidance to help ensure workplaces are as safe as possible.

These 8 guides cover a range of different types of work. Many businesses operate more than one type of workplace, such as an office, factory and fleet of vehicles. You may need to use more than one of these guides as you think through what you need to do to keep people safe.

Cash flow - Life after lockdown

The Firefight

Lockdown was announced on 23rd March and businesses began wondering how to manage. Certain businesses saw 100% of their income drop off overnight with a few having worrying signs prior to the lockdown.

Many businesses took action days before to make redundancies and then the government stepped in. New loan schemes were announced which were 80% government backed, a job retention scheme paying staff wages, grants available in tens of thousands for those worse hit and a new self-employed grant. With all the schemes in place, it seemed to at least help put those business’ that needed to, into a commercial coma.

From the outset there has been cash flow planning based around numerous assumptions. What your trade looks like now, how the grants fit in, how the job retention grants help and at what stage the cash flow planning is at. The cash flow planning can be split into three distinctive areas.

First 2-3 weeks

This is the firefighting stage where many businesses made drastic cash flow decisions. This required some level-headed decision-making including various discussions with customers and suppliers about trade terms, with the team about furloughing and/or redundancies, with the bank about funding, with local authorities over rates and grants, with landlords over deferring rents, help from Hallidays HR and your team at Hallidays about deferment of tax payments and helping with the complex furloughing processes.

Thankfully, we are through this stage however it was a very difficult and anxious period and you would have planned cash flow to get through this initial uncertain period.

Reviewing cash requirements over the next 3 months

We are deep within this period now and thankfully a lot of the government schemes have brought a reduced amount of anxiety and an equalling of cash flow within businesses or at least some of the costs being covered. Most businesses have received this help by the end of April. Wages are being paid by government grants, other grants being received to help cash flow within this period, loans have been applied for and other major liabilities deferred where possible.

Extra care is needed here to not just jump straight into a new loan facility without understanding the impact.

Modelling out the next 3 months weekly is critical in this period. If your business is being mothballed for now can you cover the costs that remain? How can you pay yourselves if cash is tight? Can you adjust any personal outgoings like mortgage payments to reduce the pressure on business cash outflow?

Next 12 months cash flow – putting plans in place now

For businesses that are fundamentally sound, it is hoped that these can be cocooned or repurposed so that they can recover when conditions improve. They are able to take advantage of Government supports such as CBILS, BBLs, CJRS, VAT and other tax deferment and business rates support as well as rent reductions and other cost cutting exercises.

There is a critical need to plan the cash flow requirements over the next 12 months now. CBIL and BBL will requirement repayments of both capital and interest after 12 months, VAT deferments will come to an end, other taxes deferred will require paying, landlords will be looking to restart rent payments and vital working capital will be required as part of business trade. The same trading terms before this crisis may be a lot different now and when we come out of the lockdown so it is crucial to plan now.

We don’t know the full extent of the easing of lockdown and certain industries are likely to be released at different times. You therefore need to think about scenario planning, start off with worse case and we can help assist with building in better trade working capital management, planning more with various tax payment plans, planning to take up external funding, help both equity and debt focussed and making sure you have a viable plan to present to funders. There might also be a focus on efficiencies now.

Integrated cash flows including profit and loss and balance sheets are ideal for this. Using these numbers to break down into 90-day cash flows as a weekly management tool.

Planning for the future – the new normal

What is the “New Normal?” It is the most important question, but no one can predict the length of the crisis and what will be the outcomes post lock down. What is certain is that the best way to predict your future is to create it!

Talk to us if you want to create your future – our success depends on yours! Contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

https://www.hallidays.co.uk/views-and-insight/blog/cashflow-life-after-lockdown

Furlough FAQs

In the last couple of weeks, and with the opening of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme portal, a number of questions have been asked and a few things have been changed as a result by HMRC. 

Can employees now take holidays during furlough?

The government has changed their guidance and holidays can now be taken during furlough leave.

If holiday leave is taken, employers must top up the pay to 100%, but they can still claim for the other 80% through the grant. This includes bank holidays.

The extension to the Working Time Directive, whereby annual leave can be carried forward for up to 2 years, still exists and can be utilised. However, this will mainly apply to employees who are prevented from taking annual leave due to an increase in workload (e.g. key workers).

Can I insist that my employees take holidays during furlough?

Ideally, you should gain the employees consent to take holidays during furlough. However, the bottom line is that if they disagree, you can still insist that furloughed employees use up some, or all, of their annual leave during the furlough period.

Many employers will want to do this to reduce the amount of annual leave to be taken once the lockdown ends and businesses return to normal.

Legislation states that employers can force employees to take holiday as long as they give twice as many days’ notice as the period of leave the employee is required to take. For example, if the employer requires the worker to take two week's annual leave at a certain time, it must give the worker at least four weeks' advance notice (unless something different is specified in their contract of employment).

Can employees withdraw from salary sacrifice schemes during furlough?

Employees can request to stop participating in salary sacrifice schemes if there is a ‘life event’. HMRC have confirmed that COVID-19 counts as a life event, so salary sacrifice arrangements can be changed. This would amount to a variation of the employment contract and it is recommended that you confirm any change in writing – even if it is only on a temporary basis.

What happens to other non-monetary benefits?

Non-monetary benefits like health insurance or a company car should still be provided throughout furlough.

However, these non-monetary benefits (including taxable benefits in kind, salary sacrifice and pension contributions) should not be included in the reference salary to work out the 80% of furlough pay.

Can I claim for those on statutory leave receiving enhanced pay?

You can claim through the scheme for those employees receiving enhanced company benefits/ pay for:

  • Maternity pay
  • Adoption pay
  • Paternity pay
  • Shared parental pay
  • Parental bereavement pay

How do I calculate a furlough claim for salaried employees?

The claim should be based on 80% of a salaried employee’s wages on the employee’s last pay period prior to 19th March 2020.

How do I calculate a furlough claim for employees who work variable hours?

The claim should be based on 80% of either (whichever is highest):

  • The same month’s earnings from 2019, or
  • Average monthly earnings from the last year

If an employee has less than 12 months’ service, then the claim should be based on an average of actual monthly earning since their start date.

Salaried employees on irregular salaries can be based on a previous earnings average, as above.

What is furlough pay based on?

Furlough pay should be based on your ‘regular contractual pay’. This includes:

  • Wages
  • Compulsory commission
  • Past overtime (not necessarily contractual but regular over a 12-month period)

It does NOT include:

  • Discretionary commission (including tips)
  • Discretionary bonuses
  • Non-cash payments
  • Benefits in kind

Is there any guidance on what working life might look like after lockdown?

Government plans are expected to be released on Sunday 10th May. We will be in touch when we know more.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk

What next for commercial landlords and tenants?

The Government’s moratorium on all forms of possession action and debt recovery for three months has had the effect (as did Brexit) of kicking the can down the road. Tenants have breathing space for now but what happens after June if the moratorium is not extended at that point?

Unless a landlord has agreed to waive the rent due for the March quarter then, come July, many tenants who have been unable to pay some or all of this quarter’s rent will owe up to six months’ rent as the next quarter falls due for many on 24 June.

Even if the economy returns to running at pre-COVID speed, which seems highly unlikely, most businesses that have been closed won’t be able to make up all the lost trade, particularly those operating in the hospitality and leisure sectors. If landlords seek to enforce their rights, there could be thousands of business failures and investment in furloughs, rate release, business loans will have all been for nought. It may be that some of the smaller businesses that have taken advantage of all reliefs and some of the larger businesses with deeper pockets will survive but there will be many in the middle who will not. In turn, if tenants don’t pay their landlords the rent that is owed then many landlords may be in difficulty with their lenders.

It also seems likely that any release of the lockdown will be slow and phased, with many businesses still unable trade for a long time to come, either fully or partially. In addition to this financial burden, the press has reported that the furlough scheme will be modified or phased out, potentially adding to business costs.

Whilst some landlords and tenants have taken a long term and measured view, simply asking them to co-operate may not be enough. Until the Government intervened, others were threatening enforcement procedures and the fact that measures were required to this indicates that not all landlords want to take this approach or can afford to take a relaxed view to receiving rent.

Currently, two schemes to ameliorate these effects have their supporters – rent abatement (seemingly having originated from the #NationalTimeOut campaign) and rent support (Furlough Space Scheme).

Rent abatement

This proposal has the backing of several large companies in the hospitality and food industries, such as Pret a Manger, Prezzo and Nando’s and well-known figures, including Nigella Lawson and Michel Roux jnr. The suggestion is to have a national rent holiday for a period of time and, potentially, to make all rents turnover related until sales figures recover to pre-COVID levels as a minimum. The reaction of lenders to these notions will be fascinating to watch. With the proposal that tenants don’t pay landlords, lenders aren’t going to see repayments or, at the very least, landlords will struggle to make repayments. Therefore, it’s clear that lenders will need to be involved and the maths is likely to get very complicated.

Rent support

Similar to furlough for employees and attractively named the Furloughed Space Grant Scheme, this would require the Government to pay some or all of the rent. A scheme like this has been introduced in Denmark. Subject to any terms and conditions attached, this option seems attractive to landlords, tenants and lenders. Given the level spending already injected to keep the economy afloat through the crisis, the Government may be less convinced of its merits. However, if the alternative is millions of jobs and thousands of businesses lost which leads to a severe recession, it might be a price worth paying. The cost to the economy of thousands of people, currently furloughed, being made redundant, and businesses and landlords defaulting on loans, may lead to an L shaped recession rather than one that is V or even U shaped.

Should the Government decide to halt investment and reject these plans, it might be argued that it would have been preferable to have stuck with its initial herd immunity proposals and avoided lockdown, as Sweden did. This would at least have kept the economy running. The financial implications could be difficult for many if the situation is not proactively addressed.

What does this mean for you?

Without steps being taken by the Government to adequately ameliorate the position, many landlords and tenants may need advice on the options available to them as they seek to secure their position. Ultimately, such a scenario may mean some difficult decisions will need to be taken if both landlords and tenants are to survive. It cannot be in the collective interests of landlords to jeopardise the economy by demanding its money in July since, as a group, they will then be left with an awful lot of empty premises.

We have already set out a number of options for both landlords and tenants, the applicability of which will depend on your individual circumstances. If the Government has not announced any proposals for dealing with this situation by June and you are a landlord or a tenant, we would recommend that you get in touch to discuss your options and how they might apply to your specific situation so that you are fully prepared in the months ahead.

https://www.buckles-law.co.uk/blog/what-next-for-commercial-landlords-and-tenants/

Ecommerce trends during Covid-19

There is no doubt that Coronavirus has people concerned about the potential impact on the economy. But is it as catastrophic as we think?

Whilst it may seem like the economy right now is a muddy old field, there are green shoots fighting through for certain products that are in high demand.

If it is safe and possible for you to adjust your business model, then you can soar during this tough time.

Platform81 have gathered four of the biggest ecommerce trends to appear since lockdown began:

Cleaning Products

Mid to the end of March, we saw a huge increase in demand for cleaning products. From Mrs Hinch favourite Zoflora to packs of antibacterial wipes, sales went through the roof. One of our clients who is a wholesaler, saw a 500% month on month, and a 450% year on year increase in revenue and their top ten dominated by these cleaning products.

Activities for kids

As schools and nurseries have closed, many parents are turning to home schooling, or activities for their mini humans. Especially when the nice weather hit in April, demand for outdoor activities went through the roof (and out into the gardens themselves, it seems). One client of ours saw a 134% increase in revenue for watering cans and other gardening tools, and also paddling pool sales rocketed.

As soon as lockdown was confirmed, you can literally see the panic for parents on Google Trends, myself included, as we wanted to find a way to keep our little ones entertained (that other cheeky little peak earlier on was February half term).

live-blog-1-1205.jpg

Cake deliveries

Over the past couple of weeks, we have seen businesses think outside of the (cake) box. Baker Candy’s Cupcakes have been in the news because she adapted her business by making her website ecommerce, and delivering cake in boxes that were easy for the postman to just pop through letter boxes, and her revenue increased 7 fold.

Card deliveries

At first, we saw top card delivery websites have to pull back their offering when the pandemic first hit, but they soon adapted for the current climate with pushing their ecard products. Genius! Some even had a 1p card delivery so you can send some support to key worker loved one. Talk about adjusting their business to suit the current climate and supporting our invaluable key workers! During these unprecedented times, innovation and adaptability are more important than ever.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-ecommerce-trends-during-covid-19/

‘Keep Stockport Caring’ campaign launched

A campaign to ‘Keep Stockport Caring’ has been launched to support the voluntary, community and social enterprise sectors in the borough.

The marketing campaign and website, using the hashtag #KeepStockportCaring, is being jointly promoted by Stockport Council, Marketing Stockport and Sector 3, a collaborative network of Stockport third sector organisations.

Many local organisations and charities in Stockport have seen a dramatic drop in revenue and lost volunteers to self-isolation, all at a time when they’ve seen an unprecedented rise in demand for their services. These key services need protecting for the whole of the Stockport community and for the future.

Steve Hughes, Vice-chair of Sector 3 says:

With this campaign, the Stockport VCSE sector are working together to raise as much money as possible that will be invested directly back into Stockport groups and organisations. We have launched a JustGiving site because many have lost the ability to do traditional fundraising with the restrictions of Covid-19. The funds raised, added to those we have from other sources, will be used to help VCSE groups and organisations across Stockport, many who currently feel unsupported and unable to continue for much longer.

“Fundraising is only part of the story. There are other ways to Keep Stockport Caring and we also want to encourage people to volunteer time or donate goods to food banks. Many people in Stockport already support local charities but others aren’t sure where to start. Keep Stockport Caring complements other fund-raising activities that are happening and we hope it will get even more people involved in supporting their local communities.”

Councillor Amanda Peers, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Neighbourhoods said:

Our VCSE sector is amazing! People across Stockport have shown how much they care and have freely given their time, money and donations during the Covid-19 crisis. Established organisations, new groups and new volunteers have come together at a time of great need, demonstrating that Stockport works best when we work together.

“We can’t lose the momentum gained doing this vital work and the challenge is to Keep Stockport Caring as part of the ‘new normal’. Stockport Council are proud to be involved with this new fund-raising platform that will make it simpler for local people to support local charities and offer a lifeline for local charities who might not have the profile to fundraise independently at this time.”

More information is available about the campaign to Keep Stockport Caring is available from the campaign website, and Sector 3.


07/05/2020

Growing as a leader

We’ve released a new white paper for you to gain insights and inspiration into how you can grow as a leader to drive you, your team and your business forward. The COVID-19 pandemic has transformed the world of business. Now more than ever there is a need for strong, clear, decisive leadership to lead organisations through the crisis.

A key part of being a great leader is about having self-awareness and taking responsibility for your own behaviours and performance.

Do you aspire to be the best version of yourself that you can be? If you don’t, how will you inspire others to follow you? Being a leader is very different from being a boss. Leaders don’t ‘boss’ subservient staff around, leaders inspire action, loyalty and commitment from an engaged team.

Leadership in times of crisis

The most important skill in a crisis is the ability to adapt quickly. Your first response might not be your final response, and strategies may change along the way. That is fine. You can’t be tunnel-visioned: if things change, you should too. Good examples include schools, gyms, and yoga studios moving to online classes or restaurants changing to delivery-only.

Remote working is also not to be feared. Social distancing has made it all but inevitable, but any lingering worries about employee engagement are unfounded. ADP Research Institute found some of the most engaged employees work remotely 80% of the time.

“The best leaders take anxiety and turn it into confidence.”

Marcus Buckingham, Author and Global Researcher

Many successful leaders are focussing on enriching the lives of individuals, building better organisations and creating a more caring world by considering what you can do for others.

Author Jeffrey Hayzlett suggests 4 steps to become a better leader:

  1. Encourage diversity of thought
    Motivate your team to think outside the box and give you more options to consider when it’s time to make a move.
  2. Create a culture of trust
    Communications need to be disseminated to every level of the organisation. Trust is earned and hard to repair once broken.
  3. Have an unselfish mindset
    The best leaders show their teams they are valued, supported and trusted. Handled well, crisis management can actually empower teams, forging a sense of community by getting through tough times together.
  4. Foster leadership in others
    With the right leadership, your team, your organisation, your community won’t just make it through a crisis but become better because of it.

Read the full white paper here.

Check if you can claim a grant through the self-employment income support scheme

HMRC updated their guidance 4 May to outline the process for applying for SEISS.

The scheme will allow you to claim a taxable grant of 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether.

You will get a taxable grant based on your average trading profit over the 3 tax years:

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

HMRC will work out your average trading profit by adding together your total trading profits or losses for the 3 tax years, then they will divide by 3.

The grant will be 80% of your average monthly trading profits, paid out in a single instalment covering 3 months, and capped at £7,500 altogether. The online service will tell you how HMRC have worked the grant out.

The grant amount HMRC work out for you will be paid directly into your bank account, in one instalment.

Find out how HMRC will work out your average trading profits including if you have not traded for all 3 years here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#threeyears

If you receive the grant you can continue to work, start a new trade, or take on other employment including voluntary work, or duties as an armed forces reservist.

The grant will be subject to Income Tax and self-employed National Insurance.

There is other support available if you are not eligible for the grant.

HMRC will work out if you are eligible and how much grant you may get.

Check if you are eligible to claim

HMRC have an online eligibility checker which links from their web page: https://www.tax.service.gov.uk/self-employment-support/enter-unique-taxpayer-reference

Full details: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Managing through Covid-19 and the ‘new normal’ 

What are the strategies and options for businesses?

You are probably flat out dealing with grants, suppliers, customers, employees and doing the day job. We cannot think of a time where businesses had so many difficult choices to make.

We also have been incredibly busy making sure you are informed, prepared to survive the pandemic, and prosper in the future. We have also been helping our clients with Government supports and ensuring as many of our clients survive as possible.

As we enter week 6 of the crisis we have concluded that there are now 3 choices for businesses that are not already surviving and prospering online:

  • Pivot or repurpose
  • Cocoon
  • Liquidate

We are here to help you manage as best you can through the crisis and plan for the future. If you want to have a conversation to discuss anything in this article please do get in touch.

Pivoting or repurposing a business

For businesses which have been impacted but can continue to trade they have two options available:

  • Continue providing the same product / service in broadly the same way to the same customers (e.g. restaurants providing take away service and schools giving classes online) or;
  • Repurposing or Pivoting the business to provide a new service which is now in high demand (e.g. manufacturing businesses making PPE and leisure centres providing space for testing facilities)

We can help you navigate any changes in your business and understand what the impact may have on current and future financial performance. Given that repurposing involves a big change in the business there are likely to be many things including approvals, permissions, and supply chains to consider which we can help with.

This is also an opportunity for businesses to review their vision, strategy and how they are going to adapt to the changing business environment. We are using a simple, quick, and highly effective approach called a One Page Plan which can help adapt to the new normal. Let us know if you would like to have a conversation about this.

Cocooning a business

Cocooning, or mothballing, is a temporary suspension of a business and can be the result of sales reducing to zero (or nearly zero) with no prospect of this picking up in the short term.

All cash outflows where possible are stopped or reduced and the business is left in a state which it can emerge from once the prevailing business conditions improve.

Doing this means the business owner can delay taking a decision on what to do next for 2 months – whilst the key government support schemes remain in place.

Businesses should consider the financial impact of cocooning versus staying open (if that is possible), options for repurposing / pivoting as well as the impact on customer and suppliers.

We can work with businesses to understand what costs can be cut and how to do it so the chances of emerging successfully post-crisis are maximised.

Liquidating a business

For businesses who have been critically affected by Covid-19 (e.g. revenue has dropped to zero) these are categorised into two groups:

  • Fundamentally sound; and
  • Previously experienced periods of stress or distress

For businesses that are fundamentally sound, it is hoped that these can be cocooned or repurposed so that they can recover when conditions improve. They are able to take advantage of Government supports such as CBILS, CJRS, VAT and other tax deferment and business rates support as well as rent reductions and other cost cutting exercises.

Businesses who have been critically affected and who have previously experienced periods of stress or distress are unlikely to get CBILS support. They may still benefit from other government support such as CJRS and BBLS which will keep them going in the short term, but they are more likely to go into liquidation than emerge successfully after lock down.These businesses should seek expert advice now as there may still be options available to the business owners.

Planning for the future

What is the “New Normal?” It is the most important question, but no one can predict the length of the crisis and what will be the outcomes post lock down. What is certain is that the best way to predict your future is to create it!

We have the Business One Page Plan process to help your business adjust to the changing times and prosper post lock down. We cannot guarantee how things will work out, but we do know taking some time now to think about the future may lead to new opportunities and help focus your actions.

Talk to us if you want to create your future – our success depends on yours!

Stockport collaborates to launch Covid-19 business recovery website

As Stockport’s business community prepares for recovery post-coronavirus, a group of influential business leaders from the town have collaborated with Stockport Council to launch a new website – www.skbusinessrecovery.co.uk – to support businesses through the phases of recovery.

When the Government announced its lockdown measures in mid-March, Stockport Council convened the Stockport Economic Resilience Group to support businesses and the local economy in response to the impact of coronavirus.

The SER group – that meets online throughout each week – is a partnership of private and public sector representatives, collaborating to coordinate a swift and effective response to the economic impacts that the crisis has brought to the borough’s business community.

The new website provides a portal to a wealth of information and support tools to help businesses quickly navigate their way through the complexities brought about as a result of the coronavirus. It delivers easy access to information and support tools designed to help businesses and the economy recover from the considerable impact of Covid-19, including a forum where users can seek advice, share experiences and discuss ideas. 

The ‘SK Recovery’ website (https://skbusinessrecovery.co.uk) is also a platform to showcase innovation, where businesses have been inspired to revise their business models, to look for opportunities, to trial new ideas and to launch new products. 

The website provides access to a valuable resource normally only available to those who have the means to secure an experienced and expensive executive board. The Stockport Recovery Support Board, a team of experienced professionals, will be on hand to provide expert guidance via a regular webinar and to support businesses to develop their recovery plan.

The site will also share ideas on how to manage the crisis on a day-to-day basis, and to build recovery for the future as the borough moves through the various phases returning to a new normal.

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said:

“Our recovery is going to be shaped around supporting Stockport businesses and with it, the local community.

“The website will allow local businesses to develop closer links with one another, which can then support buying and using each other’s services.

“This is essential. By doing this, we can help ensure any economic benefits are retained within Stockport so we bounce back from this crisis strongly and begin to ‘build back better’.

“Alongside this, we are developing our longer-term economic recovery plan that will ensure Stockport remains one of the best places to invest and do business in.”

For more information, visit SK Recovery.

Dining room chair or office chair?

Now that many of us are working from home we have had to adapt our working space to fit in with our home environment.

The largest number of comments we have received during lockdown are from people saying their backs ache. Logically why wouldn’t they? If a dining room chair was ergonomically sound for the office environment, why wouldn’t they be in everyone’s offices?

Unless we are having a gargantuan Henry V111 type feast, most of us would not sit on a dining room chair for more than 2-3 hours, whereas our office chairs are designed to allow us to sit for longer. An office chair is a feast of moveable ergonomic parts.

Posture, posture, posture…………….

Why does how we sit and what we sit on matter?

Because…………………….
We are all different shapes and sizes and we were made to move not to sit.

What to do………………
Under normal circumstances the chair needs to fit you, instead of you having to fit the chair. We can compare a chair to a bed in this instance – as we use both for about 8 hours a day. Most people will invest in a good bed to get a good night’s sleep and so they should invest in the correct chair to feel as good at the end of the day as they did at the start.

Our advice…………….
We appreciate that not everyone has a home that can facilitate the same work area that their office does. However, the consequences of sitting on a dining room chair for a prolonged period of time during lockdown, will inevitably have long standing and far reaching effects on not only the back but also, circulation, muscles, hips and neck – in fact bad posture affects the whole body. A comfy chair not only protects the body posture, but it also has been proven to increase productivity and job satisfaction.

Conclusion………….
Invest in your body and stop sitting on your dining room chair.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-dining-room-chair-or-office-chair/

Business Bounce Back Loan FAQs

The Bounce Back Loan Scheme is a new scheme introduced to help smaller businesses impacted by coronavirus (COVID-19). It aims to assist those businesses to borrow between £2,000 up to 25% of a business’ turnover (the maximum amount available is £50,000).

Government will cover any interest payable in the first 12 months through a Business Interruption Payment to the lender, and lenders will benefit from a 100% government-backed guarantee.

The government has set the interest rate for this loan at 2.5% per annum and the repayment term is fixed at six years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. Businesses remain 100% liable to repay the full loan amount, as well as interest, after the first year.

The Scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

The British Business Bank has released a FAQs for Small Businesses: Bounce Back Loan Scheme covering 24 questions.

See: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/faqs-for-small-businesses/#f1

UK condemns cyber actors seeking to benefit from global coronavirus pandemic

The Foreign Secretary has called for an end to cyber attacks by hostile actors who are using the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic as an opportunity to carry out malicious cyber activity, including targeting medical facilities around the world.

This follows a joint advisory on the 5th May by the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) and the US’s Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security agency (CISA) exposing malicious cyber campaigns targeting international healthcare and medical research organisations involved in the coronavirus response, and giving advice on how to stay safe online.

Attacks by state and non-state actors seeking to undermine the global response to this unprecedented global health crisis endanger lives. International law and the norms of responsible state behaviour must be respected and all states have an important role to play to help counter irresponsible activity being carried out by criminal groups in their countries. Our support for the most vulnerable extends to cyberspace.

The NCSC has advised staff at healthcare and medical research organisations to change and strengthen passwords that could be easily guessed and implement two-factor authentication to reduce the threat of compromises.

Foreign Secretary, Dominic Raab, said:

It is completely unacceptable that malicious cyber actors are targeting those working to overcome the coronavirus pandemic around the world, from experts working on the global health response to hospitals and healthcare systems.

The effects of these cyber attacks are potentially life-threatening as they disrupt and put pressure on organisations and individuals working hard to save lives.

The UK will continue to counter those who conduct reckless cyber attacks for their own malicious ends. We are working closely with our allies to hold the perpetrators to account and deter further malicious cyber activity around the world.

Background

  • the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has identified that an increasing number of malicious cyber actors are exploiting the current COVID-19 pandemic for their own objectives. APT groups and cyber criminals are targeting individuals, small and medium-size businesses and large organisations with COVID-19 related scams and phishing emails
  • today, the NCSC and the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) have issued a joint alert exposing malicious cyber campaigns targeting international healthcare and medical research organisations involved in the coronavirus (COVID-19) response, and giving advice on how to stay safe online
  • the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has produced practical advice for individuals and organisations on how to deal with COVID-19 related malicious cyber activity
  • as cyberspace is essentially borderless, any mitigations or solutions need to be international – it is a foreign policy issue as much as a technical one. The UK works with the EU, NATO, the OSCE, the UN, and bilaterally with countries around the world to respond to and deter malicious cyber activity

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-condemns-cyber-actors-seeking-to-benefit-from-global-coronavirus-pandemic

New funding to support dairy farmers through coronavirus

England’s dairy farmers will be able to access up to £10,000 each to help them overcome the impact of the coronavirus outbreak.

The new funding will help support dairy farmers – who together continue to produce over 40 million litres of milk every day – who have seen decreased demand for their products as bars, restaurants and cafes have had to close.

Today’s announcement is the latest action from the government to support dairy farmers, building on the unprecedented levels of support already announced by the Chancellor and our recent action to temporarily relax some elements of UK competition law to allow suppliers, retailers and logistics providers in the dairy industry to work more closely together on some of the challenges they are facing.

With some dairy farmers facing financial difficulties and excess milk, the new fund will provide support for those most in need. Eligible dairy farmers will be entitled to up to £10,000 each, to cover 70% of their lost income during April and May to ensure they can continue to operate and sustain production capacity without impacts on animal welfare.

It also comes as the government today backed a £1 million campaign to boost milk consumption and help producers use their surplus stock.

Environment Secretary George Eustice said:

Our dairy industry plays a crucial role in feeding our nation and we are doing all we can to ensure they are properly supported during this time.

We’ve already relaxed competition laws so dairy farmers can work together through the toughest months, but recognise there is more to be done. That is why today we have kick started a new campaign to boost milk consumption and have announced a further package of funding.

We will continue to stand alongside our dairy farmers through this difficult period.

The dairy sector is the UK’s largest farming sector, with milk accounting for 16.85% of total agricultural output in the UK in 2018. Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the dairy industry has faced challenges of excess milk, falling prices, and reduced demand from the hospitality sector.

While many farmers have already rerouted their milk supplies to retailers and supermarkets – which have seen increased demand in recent weeks – today’s move will give the farmers in the greatest need the financial assurance to ensure they can remain operational, sustain production capacity and continue to meet animal welfare demands at this time.

Eligible dairy farmers who have lost more than 25% of their income over April and May due to coronavirus disruptions will be eligible to access this funding for those qualifying months, with no cap set on the number of farmers who can receive this support or on the total funding available.

It comes as the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (AHDB) has today launched a new marketing campaign to increase consumption of milk in UK households, funded jointly by the AHDB, Defra, the Scottish Government, Welsh Government, Northern Ireland Executive and Dairy UK.

The £1 million promotional campaign will to help increase sales of dairy products by encouraging the public to drink more milk.

Christine Watts, AHDB’s Chief Marketing Officer said:

This new innovative marketing campaign is a fantastic demonstration of what can be achieved when industry and Government join together to meet a common supply chain challenge.

It will support dairy farmers and processors in driving demand for milk within households across the UK. It will link consumers’ love of the great taste of milk and dairy with how we are all having to manage these challenging times at home and at work.

The UK’s food supply chain remains resilient and the Environment Secretary continues to meet regularly with representatives of the food and farming industry to ensure people can get the food and groceries they need.

Further information:

  • The new hardship fund announced today can be accessed by eligible dairy farmers in England. More detail on the fund will be issued in due course
  • The new AHDB dairy campaign is jointly funded by Dairy UK, Defra, the Welsh Government, Scottish Government and Northern Ireland Executive and will be implemented across the UK
  • The temporary relaxation of competition rules for the dairy industry is effective across the UK

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-funding-to-support-dairy-farmers-through-coronavirus 


05/05/2020

New Bounce Back Loans launched

Britain’s small businesses can now apply for quick and easy-to access loans of up to £50,000 – with the cash expected to land within days.

  • small businesses will be able to apply for quick and easy-to-access loans from Monday 4th May.
  • businesses will be able to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000 with the cash arriving within days
  • loans will be 100% government backed for lenders, and businesses can apply online through a short and simple form

Thousands of small firms and sole traders – including high street staples like hairdressers, coffee shops and florists – will be eligible for 100% government-backed Bounce Back Loans to help them make it through the coronavirus outbreak.

Small business owners can apply to accredited lenders by filling out a simple online form, with only seven questions.

The government has also agreed with lenders that an affordable flat rate of 2.5% interest will be charged on these loans. And any business that has already taken out a Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan of £50,000 or less can apply to have these switched over to this generous new scheme.

The Bounce Back Loan scheme is the latest step in a package of world-leading support measures launched by Chancellor Rishi Sunak – with £7.5 billion already awarded in business grants, 4 million jobs supported through the job retention scheme and generous tax deferrals supporting hundreds of thousands of firms. To apply, see further information about the Bounce Back Loan scheme.

As part of the scheme, small businesses can borrow between £2,000 and £50,000. The government will provide lenders with a 100% guarantee and cover the cost of any fees and interest for the borrower for the first 12 months. No repayments will be due during this period to enable firms to get back on their feet.

The loans are available through a network of lenders, including the five largest banks.

  • Eligible companies will be subject to standard customer fraud, anti-money laundering (AML) and Know Your Customer (KYC) checks prior to any loan being made. Some State Aid restrictions may apply to applications.
  • The borrower always remains 100% liable for the debt.

Further information is available at www.gov.uk

Guidance on how to apply is given on the British Business Bank Website: https://www.british-business-bank.co.uk/ourpartners/coronavirus-business-interruption-loan-schemes/bounce-back-loans/for-businesses-and-advisors/

HMRC update their Guidance on the SEISS scheme.

Learn more about who can claim and the circumstances affecting claims, how much you will receive and how to make a claim.

Who can claim?

You can claim if you are a self-employed individual or a member of a partnership and:

  • you carry on a trade which has been adversely affected by coronavirus
  • you traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019 and submitted your Self-Assessment tax return on or before 23 April 2020 for that year
  • you traded in the tax year 2019 to 2020
  • you intend to continue to trade in the tax year 2020 to 2021

Your business could be adversely affected by coronavirus, for example if:

you are unable to work because you:

  • are shielding
  • are self-isolating
  • are on sick leave because of coronavirus
  • have caring responsibilities because of coronavirus
  • you have had to scale down or temporarily stop trading because:

o your supply chain has been interrupted

o you have fewer or no customers or clients

o your staff are unable to come in to work

You should not claim the grant if you are above the state aid limits or operating a trade through a trust.

To work out your eligibility we will first look at your 2018 to 2019 Self-Assessment tax return. Your trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and at least equal to your non-trading income.

If you are not eligible based on the 2018 to 2019 Self-Assessment tax return, HMRC will then look at the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019.

Find out how HMRC will work out your eligibility including if they have to use other years here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

How different circumstances affect the scheme

  • if your return is late, amended or under enquiry
  • if you are a member of a partnership
  • if you are on or took parental leave
  • if you have loans covered by the loan charge
  • if you claim averaging relief
  • if you are non-resident or chose the remittance basis
  • if you are above the state aid limits

Check these circumstances here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-different-circumstances-affect-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

How much you will get

You will get a taxable grant based on your average trading profit over the 3 tax years:

  • 2016 to 2017
  • 2017 to 2018
  • 2018 to 2019

HMRC will work out your average trading profit by adding together your total trading profits or losses for the 3 tax years, then we will divide by 3.

The grant will be 80% of your average trading profit, divided by 12 to give a monthly amount. HMRC will then multiply this by 3. We will pay this amount up to a maximum of 7,500.

The grant amount they work out for you will be paid directly into your bank account, in one instalment.

Find out how HMRC will work out your average trading profits including if you have not traded for all 3 years here: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme#3years

How to claim

The online service you will use to claim is not available yet. HMRC will aim to contact you by mid May 2020 if you are eligible, to invite you to claim using the GOV.UK online service. Payment will be made by early June 2020 if your claim is approved.

If you are unable to claim online an alternative way to claim will be available. HMRC will update the overview with more information soon. We will update you as soon as we know more but keep your eye on: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-a-grant-through-the-coronavirus-covid-19-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Top-up to local business grant funds scheme

A discretionary fund has been set up to accommodate certain small businesses previously outside the scope of the business grant funds scheme.

The Business Secretary Alok Sharma and Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Simon Clarke spoke to local authorities in England yesterday to set out that up to £617 million would be made available.

This is an additional 5% uplift to the £12.33 billion funding previously announced for the Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grants Fund (RHLGF), so up to £617 million. We will confirm the exact amount for each local authority next week.

This additional fund is aimed at small businesses with ongoing fixed property-related costs. We are asking local authorities to prioritise businesses in shared spaces, regular market traders, small charity properties that would meet the criteria for Small Business Rates Relief, and bed and breakfasts that pay council tax rather than business rates. But local authorities may choose to make payments to other businesses based on local economic need. The allocation of funding will be at the discretion of local authorities.

Businesses must be small, under 50 employees, and they must also be able to demonstrate that they have seen a significant drop of income due to Coronavirus restriction measures.

There will be three levels of grant payments. The maximum will be £25,000. There will also be grants of £10,000. local authorities will have discretion to make payments of any amount under £10,000. It will be for councils to adapt this approach to local circumstances.

Further guidance for local authorities will be set out shortly.

As of 27 April, over £7.5 billion has been paid out to over 614,000 business properties via the SBGF and RHLGF schemes. This is over 61% of the grant funding allocated to local authorities.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/top-up-to-local-business-grant-funds-scheme?utm_source=c711a024-400a-41c6-a2b9-1a103a62ddaa&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

£6.1 million funding boost to help high streets and town centres through pandemic

Business Improvement Districts will receive funding in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

  • Business Improvement Districts set to receive £6.1 million in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic
  • Hundreds of BIDs across England will receive support to help cover their day to day costs for the next 3 months
  • Today’s funding comes on top of the government’s comprehensive package of support for business and workers during the economic emergency

Hundreds of local business partnerships across England will share £6.1m of funding to spend on projects that will help their local economies through the uncertainty of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP confirmed (1 May 2020).

The money will be paid to local authorities and dispersed to Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). These are local business partnerships that bring developers and communities together to provide local leadership, drive regeneration and deliver projects and additional local services.

Many BIDs are now playing a crucial role during these challenging economic times, offering hands-on support to those businesses affected, including advice services, increased security to protect businesses that have closed, and providing key intelligence to local and central government on the impact of the coronavirus outbreak on their local economies.

High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said:

The government has announced a comprehensive programme of support for businesses to help them deal with the economic impact caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and today we are extending that support to Business Improvement Districts.

BIDs are uniquely placed and have a proven track record of success in supporting local businesses, empowering communities, championing our town centres and driving forward the renewal of our high streets.

It’s only right that during these unprecedented times we give them all the necessary support they need to continue operating, so that they can carry on their vital work now and crucially when we move into the recovery phase from the current crisis.

Today’s funding comes on top of the government’s comprehensive package of support for business and workers during the economic emergency including:

  • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme where small and large employers will be eligible to apply for a government grant of 80% of workers’ salaries up to £2,500 a month, backdated to 1 March and available for at least 3 months
  • £330 billion worth of government backed and guaranteed loans to support businesses including a new Bounce Back Loans scheme, which will provide loans of up to £50,000 available to the smallest businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic
  • a deferral of the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June 2020 - representing a £30 billion injection into the economy
  • a £12.3 billion package for local authorities to deliver grants of up to £25,000 to eligible businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors
  • new temporary measures to safeguard the UK high street against aggressive debt recovery actions during the coronavirus pandemic

BIDs are proven an effective vehicle of leveraging private investment and have a significant role to play in high street regeneration: in 2019, BIDs across England raised over £106.7 million through levy payments to invest back into their respective towns and cities. Their role will be even more important in the recovery phase from the current crisis.

Further information is available at https://www.gov.uk

Funding Circle launches CBILS

Funding Circle have launched their Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) offering. They have onboarded their "Tier 1 introducers" and are limiting applications from each introducer to a certain number per day. They are only accepting limited companies for the moment and not accepting businesses less than 3 years old or loss-making businesses. Rates will be based on an assessment of risk from 4-7% (or APR <9%). Loans will be up to £250k and from 2-5 years with no early repayment penalty within the first 12mths. 

Further information is available at https://www.fundingcircle.com/uk/

Tax credits customers will continue to receive payments even if working fewer hours due to COVID-19

The government has confirmed that people who can’t work their normal hours because of coronavirus (COVID-19) will still receive their usual tax credits payments.

Those working reduced hours due to coronavirus or those being furloughed by their employer will not have their tax credits payments affected if they are still employed or self-employed.

These customers do not need to contact HMRC about this change. We will treat customers as working their normal hours until the Job Retention Scheme and Self-Employment Income Support Scheme close, even if they are not using either scheme.

We’ll use the information we hold about the number of hours they normally work.

Customers can still report any other changes in income, childcare and hours in the normal way. However, they must tell us if they or their partner lose their job, are made redundant or cease trading.

Customers can continue to claim Working Tax Credit and be treated as though they are working their normal hours, but they should check GOV.UK to see if additional or alternative support is available based on their personal and financial circumstances.

For further details please visit https://www.gov.uk

Over £50 million paid to Stockport businesses in Coronavirus grants

Stockport Council has supported more than 4,300 businesses during the coronavirus crisis with payments exceeding £50 million through the Small Business Grant Funding scheme.

Launched on April 2nd, 529 payment applications were processed in the first 24 hours with grants totalling nearly £8.5m being made to help businesses in Stockport to survive the coronavirus crisis.

At 9am on Monday, May 4, more than 75 per cent of qualifying businesses in Stockport had received funding, with £50,350,000 in total paid out.

The grant payments are administered through two schemes: £10,000 for those businesses registered for small business rate relief (SBBR). For businesses in the retail, leisure and hospitality sectors a £25,000 grant is payable for eligible businesses with a rateable value of between £15,000 and £51,000 per year; those whose rateable value is £15,000 and below qualify for a £10,000 grant payment.

Cllr David Meller, Cabinet Member for Economy and Regeneration, said council officers had been working incredibly hard to ensure the grants reached Stockport businesses as soon as possible. He said:

Once the funding had reached us from the Government, our team were busy processing the claims straight away but l believe there are businesses out there that are eligible for the grants who haven’t yet applied.

“The team administering the grant schemes are now working to target people who are yet to apply. They are also encouraging those that have applied but are still waiting for payment to resubmit. Refilling in the form now will automatically show if the application has been processed and, if not, it will automatically process the application and the grant issued by BACs within three to five days.

“If you are eligible – or even think you are – and you have not applied, I am urging you do so as soon as you can.

“We know how hard this crisis is hitting businesses in Stockport, and we want to do everything we can as quickly as possible to support them and help with the cash flow issues they are experiencing.”

At 75 per cent, Stockport is ahead of the UK average of processing payments where more than £7.59 billion has been paid out to 614,181 business properties, which is 61 per cent of funding allocated to all local authorities.

Eligible businesses can submit their application online where additional guidance is provided for people who don’t know their Business rates account number

For more information on the grants and other support available for businesses in Stockport, please visit Stockport Council’s dedicated coronavirus business pages.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/over-50-million-paid-to-stockport-businesses-in-coronavirus-grants/


01/05/2020

Treasury cut taxes to reduce PPE costs

From 1 May 2020, PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.

VAT on essential personal protective equipment (PPE) for Covid-19 will be temporarily scrapped saving more than £100 million for care homes and businesses dealing with the coronavirus outbreak, the government has announced.

From tomorrow (1 May 2020), PPE purchased by care homes, businesses, charities and individuals to protect against Covid-19 will be free from VAT for a three-month period.

Ministers have already removed import duties from PPE to ensure more essential equipment can get to the front line quicker.

The government has acted as soon as possible to bring the measure into force. EU law governing VAT – which the UK is bound to until the end of the transitional period – requires the UK to charge VAT on the equipment.

The government is acting under an exceptional basis allowed by EU rules during health emergencies. The European Commission recently indicated support for member states to introduce temporary VAT reliefs to mitigate the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The move will particularly benefit care providers, who are often unable to reclaim the 20% VAT they incur on their purchases.

The government is providing the NHS with the funding necessary to purchase PPE and has committed to providing extra funding to ensure the NHS has whatever it needs to tackle Covid-19.

The government has already acted to speed up PPE supply, harnessing the power of UK industry, scouring the world for new stocks, and creating a giant distribution network to send PPE to keyworkers around the country.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/treasury-cut-taxes-to-reduce-ppe-costs

6 Ways to maintain positive cash flow during and after the Corona crisis

One of the most important ways to keep your business healthy is to ensure positive cash flow. Under normal circumstances, this is not a problem, but due to the Corona crisis, it has become harder for businesses to maintain positive cash flow. For this reason, we have listed 6 ways to make sure there’s more cash coming in than going out.

Before we go down the list, we advise you to take a good look at, or make, your business’ general overview of cash outflow and overheads. On that basis, you can determine if you really need those costs or if you need to negotiate on, for instance, better utility, (cell)phone or internet deals, or better deals with suppliers. Only by taking a good look at your business expenses, you can determine where there are opportunities to improve cash flow.

  1. Avoid big discounts

When sales go down, it’s easy to try and ‘solve’ the problem by offering big discounts and hope that sales go up. However, a generous discount doesn’t guarantee that sales will go up – certainly not in a crisis. What it does guarantee, is that profit will go down, which in turn will affect your cash flow negatively. On the other hand: what you could do to positively affect cash flow, is offer a small discount to clients willing to pay immediately instead, or to clients that are thinking of buying a bigger amount of your product or service.

  1. Stay on top of receivables

How many outstanding accounts does your company or organisation have? And what is their total value? Chances are that it’s quite a large amount, which is bad for cash flow since it represents money that’s unavailable to you. So, to maintain positive cash flow, you should always manage your receivables closely and put some extra effort into keeping the amount of overdue money as small as possible. Especially during a crisis, every penny is worth the effort.

Especially during a crisis, every penny is worth the effort

  1. Use technology to track cash flow

Staying on top of and keeping track of your business’ cash flow is key in maintaining positive cash flow. There are several ways to do this, but we advise you to use accounting software that’s specifically designed to track cash flow. In most cases, this kind of technology also offers real-time insights that’ll help you with budgeting and managing cash flow, as well as keeping an accurate account of what is coming in and going out, expected and projected cash flow, et cetera. In short: investing in the right software allows you to maintain positive cash flow.

  1. Get customers to pay faster

Staying on top of and keeping track of your business’ cash flow is key in maintaining positive cash flow. There are several ways to do this, but we advise you to use accounting software that’s specifically designed to track cash flow. In most cases, this kind of technology also offers real-time insights that’ll help you with budgeting and managing cash flow, as well as keeping an accurate account of what is coming in and going out, expected and projected cash flow, et cetera. In short: investing in the right software allows you to maintain positive cash flow.

The goal is to make your monthly cash flow as smooth as possible

  1. Negotiate terms with vendors and suppliers

Most businesses focus on keeping accounts receivable as low as possible, but what about maximising the potential of your accounts payable? Especially when you’re not the only business facing a crisis, it can be good to negotiate more advantageous terms or pricing with your vendors and suppliers to improve cash flow. There are several things you can do, like negotiate invoice terms, spread out accounts payable by matching payments to deliverables, or create appropriate terms that sync up with accounts receivable. The goal is to make your monthly cash flow as smooth as possible.

  1. Invoice financing

If staying on top of receivables (tip 2) doesn’t pay out, you could consider financing invoices. In that case, a financial services provider pays you the amount per outstanding invoice in advance, so you don’t have to wait on the debtor’s payment. Of course, there are fees to consider, but nevertheless, staying away from cash flow problems and sleepless nights should be worth something.

In the UK almost half of all invoices are paid late, causing businesses cash flow problems

Government support to maintain positive cash flow
Due to coronavirus, the UK government has decided to help businesses manage their cash flow by offering the option to defer all VAT payments (without charging interest or penalties) due between 20 March 2020 and 30 June 2020.

Direct Debits
If you choose to defer your VAT payment as a result of coronavirus, you should cancel your Direct Debit through your bank as soon as possible so that HMRC will not automatically collect any VAT due. You can cancel online if you’re registered for online banking.

https://www.xeinadin-group.com/inspiration/6-ways-to-maintain-positive-cash-flow-during-and-after-the-corona-crisis/

Purpose and Connectedness

Gratitude gives us the solid ground, and purpose gives us the strength to jump high and far. Like the bright beam of a lighthouse, purpose gives us a direction and tells us where we need to put our next step, even in the darkest night and the roughest sea.

A lot has already been said and written about purpose. In this article I'd like to talk about a specific side to it, that of connectedness.

  1. Who am I? Individuality vs. connectedness
  2. Purpose and connectedness
  3. My purpose in a connected world

Before I even examine my purpose, it helps to investigate how I see myself.

  1. Who am I? Individuality vs connectedness

When we think of who we are, the first thing we generally think of is our body/mind complex, that is, the entity made up of our body and our mind. Now, while it's very clear that we all have a body and a brain, when it comes to who we actually are, things can be more flexible. Who we identify ourselves with depends on who we consider me/us vs. who we consider others, which in turn has mammoth implications on how we take the most important decisions and, in general, how we live life.

For example, many people identify themselves with their families. When they need to decide whether to accept a new job offer or whether to move to a different town, they'll assess the impact on their families. For these people, us is their family and others is everyone else. Often, the founders of a company identify themselves with its fortunes and that of its employees and stakeholders. Politicians or soldiers may identify themselves with their country and their fellow citizens. Activists identify themselves with their cause and all the people within it (think of Gandhi, Martin Luther King or Mandela, for example, or the people who fought for LGBTQ+ rights); some of them sacrifice their families, all their belongings and even their own lives to the cause they identify themselves with. Ultimately, it all boils down to how we define us vs. others and how we take decisions accordingly.

Also, such identifications are far from being permanent or strict. Many times, we go through life switching from one identification to another. In a certain situation (for example when we decide which flat to rent), we may decide to identify ourselves with our family and, in another situation few minutes later (when we decide where to invest our savings), we may decide to identify ourselves with the animal rights community and look for investments with a certain sustainability profile.

Try this quick exercise: pick three recent important decisions you took. Who were you identifying yourself with in that moment?

So, who we are is way more flexible than just being a body and a brain. It actually ranges anywhere from one's individual body/mind complex to embracing the whole of humanity or even the entire world.

I'm sure many people reading this article have actually experienced a level of connectedness that went further than they might have realised. For example, have you ever felt profound empathy or even pain upon hearing of someone’s suffering on the news, even if they live far away and without any obvious connection with you? When we hear of someone having been the victim of a violent assault or a natural disaster, for example, we feel empathy, sorrow and even pain for them. How is that possible? They are suffering but we, too, feel the pain! That's possible because we are connected with them. Here's another example: have you ever done an act of selfless kindness for someone without expecting anything in return, and have you felt really good about it? Again, how was that possible? Because you were connected with that person beyond your body/mind complex.

It's actually up to us to decide where we sit on the connectedness continuum.

I can sit on the me-centred side of the spectrum where I identify myself with my body/mind complex and I see the whole world as them vs. me, or I can sit anywhere else and include many more people in my notion of me. It's literally up to me and, of course, it also has consequences on how I feel, how I take decisions and how I act in this world.

Here's a straightforward, powerful metaphor. Imagine being in traffic. When we’re stuck in traffic we complain about the traffic like we're the good car and all the others are the bad ones. But, hang on, we’re not in traffic, we all are traffic. We're all in this together.

Try this simple exercise. The next time you’re in a long queue - at passport control (once we can start flying again) or at the supermarket checkout, for example - and you’re feeling restless and annoyed by the long wait, try shifting your attitude. Remind yourself that you’re not in the queue but you are the queue with and like everyone else. And see how your emotional domain changes to a much calmer, more accepting and connected one.

  1. Purpose and connectedness

There's a considerable benefit in identifying ourselves with something that goes beyond our body/mind complex. The more we define ourselves in terms of a larger community of people, the more energised we become. All of a sudden, we have access to a much larger pool of resources as well as emotional and mental energy just because we see ourselves and our actions integrated in a larger community of connected people, rather than separate in a me-centred world of me vs. them. We’re tapping into a larger pool of people, rather than just our individual selves.

One way to visualise purpose in this context is to define everything we do (personal and professional) in terms of the beneficial impact others receive from it.

Purpose is about impact. So, try defining everything you do (personal and professional) in terms of the beneficial impact others are going to receive from it.

Be as extensive and encompassing as you can. Include the people you have direct impact on and those you have indirect impact on. Write it all down in your journal, and you have your first visual map of the larger pool of people whose emotional and mental energy you can start tapping into today.

So, what are the practical implications of this approach in your life?

Here's an exercise to experience it yourself: pick three actions that you need to perform, whether for work or your personal life, in the next 24 hours and, while you perform each one, focus on the greater group of people that will benefit from it. Put both your intellectual and emotional focuses on those people and see what happens in you, what changes in your energy level and your emotional undertone, as well as in your motivation and your efficacy in the action itself. Pick an enjoyable action, a neutral one and an unpleasant one; and experience the broad positive impact of connectedness in each case.

Define everything in terms of connectedness: the people impacted and the benefits they receive.

This is a powerful framework you can use for anything you do in life, any decision you're about to take, any plans you're making, any fear you're facing.

What you actually have in your hands is a tool you can immediately start using in your everyday life to give more intrinsic meaning to all that you already do right now: your job, the role you have in your family, your role in your broader community, the relationships with your friends, etc.

This will immediately boost your energy, motivation, drive and inspiration; you'll be tapping into a much larger pool of emotional, intellectual and practical resources; and you'll be better equipped to face all sorts of challenges and fears.

  1. My purpose in a connected world

So, if I now want to look at a bigger picture, what does purpose mean in a world of connectedness? I'm going to use a very simple yet powerful analogy to answer this question.

Whenever we look around, we immediately see that every animal, bird and fish, every insect, and even insentient things like a river, a rock, a mountain, the clouds, everything has a role. The moment we think about it, we immediately understand that everything in nature plays a role. And we don't even question whether it's big or small; it just is.

Everything in nature serves a purpose.

So, the obvious implication is that each one of us also plays a role in this connected world.

Remember the traffic analogy above. Similarly to our car being part of the whole traffic, instead of thinking of ourselves as individuals that are separate from everyone and everything else on this planet, we can acknowledge that we, like everyone and everything else, play a role for the whole community.

So, when you're thinking of your life purpose, try defining it in terms of the people it'll impact and the benefits they will experience. And anchor yourself in that place. Other important questions (how to monetise it, for example) will find an answer later. First of all, anchor yourself in a life purpose that people will benefit from and that will energise and motivate you. Moor yourself in this place of connectedness, rich with inspiration and resources. And all the answers will flow from there.

This old tale of the masons says it very nicely.

Some 800 years ago, architects discovered how to build very tall buildings, which gave birth to a new era of cathedrals. On a foggy autumn day nearly 800 years ago, the architect of Salisbury Cathedral was visiting the work site adjacent to the River Avon when he saw three masons. He asked the first one what he was doing and the man continued his work and grumbled, “I am cutting stones.” Realising that the worker did not wish to engage in a conversation the architect moved toward the second of the three and repeated the question. The second mason stopped his work, ever so briefly, and stated that he was a stonecutter. He then added “I came to Salisbury from the north to work but as soon as I earn ten quid I will return home and pay for my daughter's education.” The architect then headed to the third of the trio and once again asked the original question. This time the worker paused, glanced at the architect until they made eye contact and then looked skyward drawing the traveller’s eyes upward. The third mason replied, “I am a mason and I am building a cathedral that will last for centuries and will inspire thousands of people.”

Ten years later, the construction was still going on; the first mason was still breaking rocks at the River Avon site; the second one had gone back home and had given her daughter the best education; and the third mason had become an architect himself and had moved on to a new work site where he was building his first cathedral.

Every day, when you wake up in the morning, you have this choice:

You can break rocks or you can build a cathedral.

Why a cathedral? There's no religious significance here, just the poetic metaphor of a project that takes many decades to complete, through the cooperation of thousands of people, that will stand for centuries and will inspire many many others.

Nobody can define your cathedral, only you can. But the moment you look at your life and your actions as pieces of a bigger puzzle that involves all those around you (near and far), everything makes a completely different sense and you’re motivated by a more powerful vision. All of a sudden, by tapping into a larger pool of people rather than just yourself, you have access to a much larger pool of resources as well as emotional and mental energy.

And you can achieve things you couldn't even have dreamt of.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/2-purpose-connectedness-davide-pagnotta/

Watch Out – Invoice and Payment Fraud on the Rise!

Over 80% of businesses report being targets of attempted or actual payment fraud in 2019. The survey conducted by J.P Morgan discovered that Business Email Compromise (BEC) was the largest reported source of attempted or actual payment fraud attacks last year.

BEC is a ticking timebomb in this current climate that could threaten your business. With everyone working remotely due to Coronavirus, this has forced businesses to change their working hours and how they perform their normal day to day operations. Amshire have already seen a number of emails to our customers preying on their vulnerability during these challenging times.

Invoice Fraud is another threat to look out for. This is where you receive an email with an invoice. You might then get a follow up email to say that the bank details have recently changed. Please pay the invoice using these new details. Do not take any requests to change payment details on face value that come via email.

So how does BEC fraud work?

Typically, someone in accounts will get an email that is supposedly from the business owner or Chief Exec. This information is easy to get from the likes of LinkedIn, Companies House or even your own website.

The email display name will have that person’s name and email address in it so it looks legitimate. Hidden behind the email though the email address will be completely different. It will go to somewhere else like Gmail, outlook.com or for the more sophisticated they might setup a similar domain but replace letters for numbers or vice versa.

An email conversation is then had between the employee and the criminal fraudster. At some point a request will then be made to pay someone. The payment will then be made, it will not be until later that anyone will discover that the company has fallen victim to this BEC fraud.

How can I protect my Business?

  1. Look out for emails asking for payments. Simple emails with text similar to “Can you still make a payment for me now?”
  2. Put extra steps in place to check and double check any requests for payments to be made. Do not rely on email for verification. Why not use the phone and speak with the business or person to confirm the request? It is far better to delay and check than fall victim to fraud.
  3. Delay making the payment. Do not feel pressured to make the payment without first checking. This is exactly what the fraudsters don’t want you to do, they want your hard-earned money.
  4. Train your employees. Now is a great time to get employees to complete online Cyber Security training. This will help educate employees on how to spot and flag up suspicious activity. This will not only help to protect the business but also the employee and their online accounts.
  5. If in doubt speak to an IT security expert. They can help check the email and see where it has come from.

If you’d like support protecting your business from cyber crime, speak to our specialist Cyber Wise team on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@cyber-wise.uk.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/invoice-and-payment-fraud-on-the-rise-warns-amshire/

How to create a high-performing virtual finance team

With the extended lockdown causing businesses a series of fresh and unprecedented challenges, how should finance leaders react to ensure their finance team and their business survive and thrive?

As the coronavirus pandemic unfolds, the primary goal of finance leaders is to keep the business afloat and manage cashflow. However, competing with this is the significant task rapidly adapting their processes to the ‘new normal’ of working from home.

A key element of this new challenge will be the creation of high-performing virtual teams in an environment that is conducive to the team and the business, where they can both survive and thrive.

Pre-empt, check-in and communicate

Oliver Deacon, an executive coach and former finance director at Microsoft’s Windows Commercial division, has extensive experience of managing virtual teams. Here he shares some of his key insights and tips that can help make the current scenario both less daunting and more successful.

“With so much chaos and changing deadlines, people can get overworked at home and spend all day working on the wrong thing, so leaders need to help prioritise the work of their teams,” Deacon told ICAEW Insights.

“Finance leaders should spend more time thinking about how they can help their team by pre-empting what it is their team may be struggling with and put in more time to help remove those blockers.”

In the current lockdown, he stresses, leaders should check in with their teams more regularly and ensure everyone is aligned on what the organisation’s goals are, and what their roles are in helping to deliver them.

They should also highlight what “high-impact work” their team should focus on and what software tools should be employed by the group – such as Teams or OneNote – to best communicate and deliver those goals.

To help achieve this, “finance leaders should expect to spend three-four hours a week more communicating than they did in the past” as they are now “a central point of information for the business”. And to facilitate freeing up that time, finance directors should “be thinking about putting their best talent onto their biggest issues”.

Context is all

Part of the difficulty for those being compelled to work from home under lockdown is how hard it is for people to get context, argues Deacon.

“Leaders need to think about providing much more context,” says Deacon. “The problem when everyone is working from home is that they’re effectively operating in their own little bubble. They’re thinking I don’t know what is going on, I’m worried about my job, I have to deal with all the distractions of home life and I’ve no idea what is happening at the top level.

“If leaders want to run great, effective teams, they need to be thinking all the time about whether their team has the context they need to do their job.”

Team leaders should be clear about how their teams meet and how regularly, said Deacon.

How they set the cultural tone of working remotely is also key as there is a danger that without such clarity, a team risks becoming prone to being “demotivated, unengaged, producing bad work with loads of misunderstandings, a lack of direction and miscommunication”.

Priorities and deadlines

While finance directors will be relentlessly focused on the “real-time analytics of their top three or four metrics and regular reforecasting of their P&L and balance sheet to understand cashflow” they also need to ensure the rest of the team is more broadly aligned in thinking about cash.

“Explain what the company’s priorities for cash are,” says Deacon and “ask for ideas about how to reduce debtor balance and ways to find X number of days’ worth of cash. Provide that environment and guidance where everyone feels like a hero on their own journey.”

Deacon is acutely aware that “with so much chaos and changing deadlines people can get overworked at home and spend all day working on the wrong thing,” so clarity of purpose and plenty of communication is paramount.

Using cloud versions of software tools that automatically back up work is another key tip, as is using collaborative programs that allow every single team member to work out of one document. The team leader can then set the priorities with everyone literally working on the same page, ensuring everyone knows exactly what is going on in the wider team with no duplication of effort.

Finance leaders should also be supporting their business partners or customers with regular updates on core priorities.

But Deacon’s biggest takeaway for busy finance leaders in these unprecedented times is simple. “Communication is key”.

https://www.icaew.com/insights/viewpoints-on-the-news/2020/may-2020/how-to-create-a-highperforming-virtual-finance-team

How can directors support effective whistleblowing in the current crisis?

Whistleblowing is always central to risk management, but it has increased importance when normal business practices are suspended. The insights provided by whistleblowers are crucial when past experience and usual presumptions cannot be relied upon. Whistleblowing highlights flaws, and it is unique in its ability to identify emerging risks and protect against reputational risks.

This article focuses on the practical challenges and the steps directors can take.

How can directors help?

Directors should seek reassurance from their company that whistleblowing continues to be an active element of the company’s risk management.

Although confidentiality may prevent directors being told the exact nature of what has been reported by whistleblowers, there is nothing to stop directors asking general questions about how whistleblowing is functioning during the crisis.

It may be helpful for directors to receive anonymised information about whistleblowing more frequently than usual so that any trends in the number and nature of whistleblowing reports can be identified at the first opportunity.

What are the practical challenges?

Whistleblowing policies and procedures should be reviewed so that appropriate modifications are made, perhaps on a temporary basis. There are a number of difficult areas which boards should always take into consideration whenever they review a policy or procedure, however the current crisis adds a new lens. For example, the crisis may discourage potential whistleblowers because they may be more concerned than ever about putting their job at risk while the jobs market is slow, but reinforcing the reliability of confidentiality and anonymity measures may help ease their concerns. If any changes in policies and procedures are made (even if these are just temporary measures) then directors and all stakeholders who are eligible to make whistleblowing reports should be informed of the changes and why they are necessary.

Homeworking could be a real or perceived barrier for whistleblowers, and those accused by whistleblowers may feel particularly vulnerable if their usual support systems are disrupted, eg if they find it more difficult to speak to a trade union representative.

It may be challenging to conduct a timely but fair investigation if it isn’t possible to hold face-to-face interviews or access relevant documentation. Implementing changes arising from lessons learned from a whistleblowing report may also be more difficult or take longer.

It may be wise to be open about the fact that any investigation may take longer. Alternatively, it may be possible to hold virtual meetings with the whistleblower, any accused person and anybody else who can provide relevant information.

Some companies may find it helpful to appoint a Whistleblowers’ Champion, in addition to their existing whistleblowing framework. Such a position is already required by the Financial Conduct Authority for some financial institutions .Their role is to ensure and oversee the integrity, independence and effectiveness of the institutions’ policies and procedures on whistleblowing, including those policies and procedures intended to protect whistleblowers from being victimised. Other types of companies may find that under the current circumstances (and going forward) appointing a Whistleblowers’ Champion may encourage whistleblowers to come forward.

Difficult decisions for boards

  • Who can report: employees are a key group, but boards need to consider the potential for whistleblowing by suppliers, non-executive directors and ex-spouses.
  • What can be reported: the extent of legitimate interest in employees’ personal lives, and a comparison with what is a grievance.
  • Anonymity and confidentiality: whether both can be guaranteed regardless of the nature of the allegation or investigation, particularly in small companies.
  • Method of reporting: whether a third party supplier will be used for the receipt or investigation of whistleblowing reports.
  • Investigations: techniques may include interviewing witnesses, surveillance or entrapment. It may be not be possible to provide a definitive timetable for investigations, but there must be oversight which ensures that crucial decisions are never made by a single investigator in isolation, eg, the decisions around remedial action and whether to give a whistleblower feedback. 
  • Remedial action: how and when action will be taken, taking into account matters such as how to investigate without revealing the whistleblower’s identity.
  • Feedback to whistleblowers: although feedback cannot be guaranteed, there should be a presumption that whistleblowers will be advised of the outcome of their report unless there is a good reason for this information to be withheld. 
  • Other reporting: policies must not mislead about any ability or duty which employees have to report to other organisations, and companies with ‘speak up’ policies must differentiate them from formal whistleblowing.
  • Behaviours: how to encourage professionalism including whether victimisation of whistleblowers should lead to disciplinary action or bonuses being withheld.
  • Rights of accused: although the whistleblower may be anonymous, as far as possible natural justice should be respected, eg, through independent corroboration, a right of reply and confidentiality of the process.

What are the final steps to success?

Whether or not changes are made to whistleblowing policies and procedures, it is a good idea to remind stakeholders who are able to make whistleblowing reports that they are still able to so. This will help underline the continued importance of whistleblowing regardless of other operational changes arising from COVID-19.

Once the COVID-19 crisis subsides companies will want to learn lessons and continue what has gone well. Provided directors and companies take appropriate steps now, whistleblowing could be one of the success stories.

https://www.icaew.com/technical/corporate-governance/roles/company-directors/directors-guidance/how-can-directors-support-effective-whistleblowing-in-the-current-crisis

Support your favourite charity and boost your wellbeing

Charities are facing huge shortfalls in their income. Most fundraising events, like the London Marathon take place over the Spring and Summer months and have been cancelled due to Covid-19.

If you can afford to do so, please make a donation to your favourite charity. As well as helping others in need, you’ll also be giving your own wellbeing a boost.  

Hallidays chosen charity, Francis House Children’s Hospice in Didsbury has set up an emergency appeal in response to their current shortfall of £250,000. Our team are completing challenges and making donations to help. If you would make a donation please visit - https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/hallidays-francis-house. It’s quick and easy – remember ‘gift aid’ to maximise your donation!

There are lots on fundraising ideas online and on social media. Here are 3 ideas:

  1. Donate your commute
  2. Donate whatever you’re not spending money on e.g. take away coffees, restaurants, hair cuts
  3. Home challenges e.g. learn a new skill like juggling, sponsor the kids to cook dinner or get fit on a space-hopper in your garden for half an hour!

For other ideas on how you can support charities visit - https://fundraising.co.uk/2020/03/30/virtual-fundraising-ideas-during-the-coronavirus-lockdown/


30/04/2020

Financial Support For Education, Early Years And Children’s Social Care

This Government guidance sets out the financial support that is available for different types of education, early years and children’s social care providers in England. If you are not an education, early years and children’s social care provider in England, you should be able to get more information about the types of financial support available to you from other relevant government departments or devolved administrations.

The guidance details the Funding and Support for businesses and outlines which options should be used including sector specific guidance for:

  • Early years
  • Children’s social care providers
  • State-funded schools
  • Supply teachers and other contingent workers in state-funded schools
  • High needs funding
  • Residential special schools
  • Mainstream independent schools
  • Independent special schools
  • Further education and apprenticeships
  • Special post-16 institutions
  • Higher Education

The Guidance states that no organisation should profit from the exceptional financial support available and should therefore only access the support required. For example, organisations which continue to receive government funding should not furlough staff whose salaries that funding could typically be considered to fund, and therefore will not need to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

All organisations are expected to have adequate and effective governance arrangements and controls in place to ensure public funding is spent effectively and appropriately.

For the full guidance please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care

Changed your business for Covid-19? Make sure you are covered!

Stockport based C&C Insurance Brokers have seen many of their clients within the life science industry finding new ways to use their expertise and facilities in order to help with the current Covid-19 crisis; including producing hand sanitiser or PPE.

As we are experiencing such uncertain and worrying times it is so great to see many businesses stepping up and finding ways in which they can help. However, changing what a business is doing, even if only temporarily, can affect the validity of a business’ insurance.

Rob Black, Development Director at C&C Insurance Brokers, explains;

It is great for businesses to be able to adapt at times like this, and even more so if it is by providing essential products. However, one important thing that businesses need to remember if they change their business operation, is that they must notify their insurer of any new activity. If your insurer is not aware of the changes and you need to make a claim you may not be covered.

“For example, if you have begun the production of hand sanitiser then your insurer needs to be aware of any new chemicals that are now on-site as this may not be covered in your current policy.

“We are speaking to clients who have spotted new opportunities amid the Covid-19 crisis and have evolved to not only keep their business running but also find a way to help where they can. This is fantastic, but it is important to make sure that your business insurance is still going to provide the cover you need, especially if you are now dealing with potentially hazardous material.”

Manchester’s Piing aims to gamify video calls

Manchester-based start-up, Piing, has released a multiplayer game that people can play via video conferences.

The company, which has been spun out of Rhythm Digital is currently in the process of raising stage one funding to expand its offering.

“Our goal at Piing is always about bringing the crowd together to create a wonderful, fun experience,” said Gareth Langley, CEO.

“Until 6 weeks ago, that has always been about crowds of people in the same space, be that an exhibition stand, a sports fan zone, or even crowds of 10,000s in a stadium. With both crowds and events in lockdown the foreseeable future, we’re releasing a number of products that stick to our core, but for distributed audiences.”

PiingParty allows up to 30 people to play a game together using their mobile to control action taking place eon the host’s shared screen on platforms like Zoom, Skype and Google Meet.

“All of us have had to change our working practices and social habits over the past few weeks,” added CCO Ed Baldry.

“So the idea came to me whilst chatting with friends on a Zoom call and I noticed just how good screen sharing has become on these platforms these days. We did a few trials playing with friends and clients, but we really knew we were on to something when our friends kept asking us for URLs to play with family at home, and our meeting warm-ups never quite got to the meeting! As such, it’s a great safe place for children to play with their remote friends, for relatives looking for something simple and fun, or as a meeting warm-up or a Friday afternoon social at work.”

Its first Buggy Race game is now available for free for a limited time, but the company says it’s working on a white label product to enable brands, sports clubs and events companies to engage “with up to 500,000 players” in a single experience.

https://www.prolificnorth.co.uk/news/tech-news/2020/04/manchesters-piing-aims-gamify-video-calls

Antidotes to Fear: Gratitude and Purpose

While it may sound redundant, fear is a scary hurdle. When we need to jump over it, we need a solid base under our feet and a powerful leap.

So, here are three actions we can take to face and then overcome our fear:

  1. Acknowledge your fear and allow it to travel through you.
  2. Ignite and experience gratitude for all that is around you.
  3. Live by a purpose that is greater than yourself.

Below, the 3 points are explained briefly. If this article resonates with you, you can get started practising them immediately. In the next few days, I'll be writing more about each of them; this is not a linear process and, in fact, each step will take you deeper and will reinforce the others. The more gratitude we experience, the less fear and the more powerful purpose. The greater purpose we're inspired by, the more genuine gratitude we'll feel and the more acceptance we'll have for our fear.

  1. Acknowledge your fear and allow it to travel through you

Very often, our typical reaction to a negative emotion like fear is resistance. We don't want to feel it. Funnily enough, we're afraid of our own fear! We don't know how to handle it. We're paralysed. We're uncomfortable talking about it with others. We can even get to the point of detesting ourselves for feeling it.

Resisting an emotion will, at best, keep it stuck inside you and, at worst, magnify it and, either way, it won't make it go away. If this is your case, try changing your perspective

It's OK to feel fear. We're in the middle of a global pandemic unprecedented in our lifetime. Our routines have been upended. Our basic needs of health and security are in danger. So...

Acknowledge your fear. Accept it. Give yourself a big, understanding, comforting hug. Tell yourself that it's OK to feel fear.

If you find it difficult to do, go to a quiet place nearby (even your bathroom, if you're locked down at home with your family), breathe deeply and give yourself that big, understanding, comforting hug. Acknowledge and accept the fear. Tell yourself that it's OK to feel it. By doing so, you're unsticking your fear and you're letting it travel through you.

  1. Ignite and experience gratitude for all that is around you

Gratitude has the power to bind us to the present moment and energise us.

When we're overwhelmed by fear, we start creating multiple scenarios of all the bad things that could happen to us, our loved ones, our community, or even the whole world. And even though these horrible scenarios haven't occurred yet, we start suffering from them, and we get paralysed and debilitated, trapped in our own heads.

If you think about it, this is the opposite of where we want to be: instead of taking what is happening around us seriously and doing something about it, we get paralysed and trapped in our own heads.

Igniting and experiencing gratitude for all that we have around us right now, breaks the bars of our mental jail, brings us back to the present moment, and energises us.

Start by experiencing a few minutes of gratitude each morning first thing when you wake up and each night last thing before you go to bed (and several more times in the day, if you want to). Think of at least 5 things or people or situations in your life that you're grateful for in that very moment.

Write them down in your journal. And give yourself a few moments to let the feeling of gratitude permeate your whole self.

  1. Live by a purpose that is greater than yourself

Purpose is an incredibly powerful tool, but also a bit of a weird animal in today's narrative. I don't know about you, but I've always felt intimidated (and a tad anxious) when someone was telling me, "What's your purpose?" "Find your purpose!" "You need to have a clearly defined purpose."

So, let me tackle it from a very practical angle. Ultimately, purpose is about impact. So, to begin with, just try this exercise: define everything you do (personal and professional) in terms of the beneficial impact others are going to receive from it. Be as extensive and encompassing as you can. Include the people you have direct impact on and those you have indirect impact on. And, again, write it all down in your journal.

In this exercise, include the exceptional circumstances we're living these days. For example, you might be self-isolating at the moment, which obviously comes at an emotional, physical and financial cost. Who are you doing it for? Who are the people that are going to benefit directly and indirectly from your self-isolation?

If you define everything you do during your day - that is, the purpose of everything you do - in terms of the beneficial impact it'll have on others, your reward is going to be two-fold.

  1. You're going to tap into the energy and resources of a much larger pool of people.
  2. All of a sudden, you're not going through these challenging times alone, but as a community - the community of people that benefit from your being in this world.

Start by trying this simple, practical exercise: define everything you do and live by, in terms of the beneficial impact others are going to receive from it, and see what powerful effect it has on your fear.

Remember: fear is a scary hurdle. When we need to jump over it, we need a solid base under our feet and a powerful leap.

Gratitude gives us the solid ground. Purpose gives us the strength to jump.

https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/antidotes-fear-gratitude-purpose-davide-pagnotta/


29/04/2020

Five firms booming despite the lockdown

For many businesses, coronavirus is the toughest problem they've ever had to face.

With their customers under lockdown, shops shuttered, cashflow drying up and their staff on furlough, they wonder how they're going to survive.

But amid all these threats, some companies are finding ways to forge ahead.

Big and small, the following firms are all taking advantage of new commercial opportunities.

Stitch & Story

A company that began as a "kitchen-table start-up" is one of the businesses that is booming during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stitch & Story is an online crafts firm with just 11 full-time employees, selling materials and providing tutorials for people who want to learn how to knit and crochet.

It has seen huge growth in recent weeks.

Co-founder Jennifer Lam told the BBC that she and her business partner, Jen Hoang, started the business seven years ago with the aim of inspiring a new generation of millennials to learn knitting and crocheting skills.

"When we started, crafting was seen as really old-fashioned and people just didn't understand how to do it," she said.

But now, especially with so many people on lockdown, interest has soared.

"Sales are surging, up massively. We had an 800% increase in March alone compared to the same period last year," she said.

"It's just something that's perfect to do now. So many people are sick of working on screens and being on their phones all the time. Crafting is seen as a break from that.

"It's just so rewarding to make something from scratch."

Tone & Sculpt

Fitness entrepreneur Krissy Cela launched her app-based workout and nutrition guides as a subscription service in January 2019, with the aim of creating a "global community of like-minded women" who wanted to keep in shape.

"People were very sceptical at first because the traditional way is to go to the gym and hire a trainer," she says. "However, that can be very expensive."

Now, of course, going to a gym is out of the question so her Tone & Sculpt app is reaching new levels of popularity.

"We've seen growth of 88% in downloads during April compared with last year," she says. "Turnover has literally tripled in the last year."

Ms Cela says her home-based exercise routines are "helping people to stay on track" at a time when "a lot of people are finding it difficult even to stay mentally positive".

With promotion of the app spreading largely by word of mouth and social media, she and her team of 17 employees are delighted with the surge in interest.

"It just goes to show that you don't need fancy equipment, which can be overwhelming," she says. "We have to make do with our homes and what we can find around us."

Laithwaite's Wine

Despite the lockdown, people are still finding ways to remain convivial, and family-run wine delivery business Laithwaite's Wine has been helping them to do just that.

The company says it has seen a big rise in sales of prosecco - up 117% year-on-year during April - and it has noticed that smaller half-bottle and quarter-bottle sizes are the most popular.

"People are on Zoom having a glass with friends and the smaller formats are a little bit more sociable," company spokesman Andrew Stead told the BBC.

"We believe that wine's role is to keep people together, and if people are coming together at a distance, they're still coming together."

More generally, Laithwaite's has seen a 300% rise in new customers year-on-year in March and April.

"People are avoiding supermarkets and we're still delivering within two to three days," said Mr Stead.

"We're seeing a level of sales we would normally associate with Christmas. Our sales at the moment are about double what we would expect for this time of year."

He added that the firm had been receiving positive feedback from customers, but also from wineries thanking it for keeping their businesses going.

"That makes us feel we're doing our bit to help everyone staying in."

Netflix

For those who aren't concerned with staying smart and trim or acquiring new craft skills, coronavirus confinement offers the chance to just slump on the sofa and watch television.

That's where media streaming services come in - and Netflix, for one, has seen subscriber numbers surge this year.

Almost 16 million people created accounts in the first three months of the year, the firm said.

That is nearly double the number of new sign-ups it saw in the final months of 2019.

However, the firm's popularity and profitability depends on offering exclusive access to hit TV series and movies that people want to watch.

And coronavirus is hampering its ability to come up with new programming, since production shutdowns have halted "almost all" filming around the world.

However, entertainment industry experts do not see that as a major issue right now.

"Netflix is and will continue to be the media company least impacted by Covid-19," said eMarketer analyst Eric Haggstrom. "Its business is a near perfect fit to a population that is suddenly housebound."

Boohoo

Fashion businesses have faced a series of setbacks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Their global supply chains were an asset in happier times, allowing them to source clothes cheaply and swiftly.

But now they are stuck with orders coming from the other side of the world that will struggle to find customers.

Boohoo, for one, has found a way to adapt to the new normal. If people aren't venturing much outside their front doors any more, what kinds of clothes do they still need?

"People aren't really buying going-out items, but they are buying homewear - hoodies, joggers, tracksuit bottoms," a Boohoo spokesperson told the BBC.

"Sales of tops have gone up in particular, with everyone wanting to look smart on Zoom calls."

As a result, the firm has seen a year-on-year rise in sales during April, at a time when rivals have reported a collapse in demand.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52383193

Fraud and cyber crime

The Government has issued advice and guidance on how to protect yourself and your business from fraud and cybercrime.

The guidance suggests protecting yourself by:

Stop

Taking a moment to stop and think before parting with your money or information could keep you safe

Challenge

Consider if it could be fake - it is ok to reject, refuse or ignore any requests - only criminals will try to rush or panic you

The police, or your bank, will never ask you to withdraw money or transfer it to a different account - they will also never ask you to reveal your full banking password or PIN

Do not click on links or attachments in unexpected or suspicious texts or emails

Confirm requests are genuine by using a known number or email address to contact organisations directly.

Protect

Contact your bank immediately if you think you have fallen for a scam and report it to Action Fraud.

To keep yourself secure online, ensure you are using the latest software, apps and operating systems on your phones, tablets and laptops - update these regularly or set your devices to automatically update so you do not have to worry.

Visit Take Five for more advice on how to protect yourself from fraud and Cyber Aware for advice on how to keep yourself secure online - https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/

How to protect your business

The guidance suggests:

Stop

If you receive a request to make an urgent payment, change supplier bank details, or provide financial information, take a moment to stop and think.

Challenge

It could be a fake - verify all payments and supplier details directly with the company on a known phone number or in person first.

Protect

Contact your business’s bank immediately if you think you have been scammed and report it to Action Fraud.

National Cyber Security Centre

The National Cyber Security Centre also has advice on how to keep your business secure online: https://www.ncsc.gov.uk/

  • Self-employed and sole traders: advice to protect your business and the technology you rely on

  • Small and medium-sized organisations: advice for businesses, charities, clubs and schools with up to 250 employees - you are likely to fall into this category if you do not have a dedicated team internally to manage your cyber security

  • Large organisations: security advice for businesses, charities and critical national infrastructure with more than 250 employees - you are likely to have a dedicated team managing your cyber security.

If you need any support with fraud or cyber crime in your business, contact our Cyber Wise team on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@cyber-wise.uk.

AIB joins list of Business Interruption Loan approved lenders

Allied Irish Bank (AIB) has announced it has now been approved for accreditation by the British Business Bank as a lender for the government backed Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

The bank has already been able to support over 600 business customers with extra support prior to its accreditation, with 99.5% of applications receiving approval. Support delivered includes payment holidays on loans, overdraft extensions, working capital facilities, relaxed covenant terms, loans and overdrafts.

Tony Kelly, Regional Director North of England and Midlands at Allied Irish Bank (GB) added:

We are constantly looking at ways to support our customers during these difficult times and it is great news that we are now in a position to deliver CBILS support. As the situation evolves, we can assure customers that we will remain flexible in our response and continually review our services as necessary, always putting their needs and safety at the forefront of our thinking.

“Our amazing staff have been keen to help and are also developing various creative fundraising methods to support the ‘AIB Together’ initiative. What’s more, the bank has given £1000 to every one of our business centres and branches to donate to a charity of their choice. Business Banking services are available through the normal channels including branch and business centre support, Telephone and Online Banking as well Internet Business Banking. The safeguarding of customers, staff and communities continues to be Allied Irish Bank (GB)’s main priority as the situation with COVID-19 evolves and customers are asked to only visit a business centre if it is absolutely essential.”

The AIB together initiative has also supported local community activity to raise charitable funds. AIB staff have set a €1 million target, that the group has agreed to match, supporting charities such as Age UK.

AIB has also provided investment to Trinity College Dublin to support its research into a vaccine for Covid-19. AIG Group has provided over £2 million funding to an immunology research hub.

Adrian Moynihan, Head of AIB NI & Interim Head of GB, said:

These are extraordinary times that require extraordinary measures. In the face of this unprecedented medical, social, and economic crisis, we are keen to mobilise all the resources at our disposal in a strategic way. We are also delighted to support the efforts of scientists to develop the much needed vaccine for COVID-19.

“We are very conscious of the pressures that our business customers are under and have been proactively reaching out to them to offer the best tailored support possible to alleviate their financial concerns. Not surprisingly for many of our business customers the solution does not involve further capital borrowing or loans and instead we are working hard to offer them immediate cash flow support through for instance repayment holidays and relaxation around lending covenants.

“While it differs from sector to sector, those requiring loans have been accessing the Bank’s own competitive products to date and now we are in a position to offer them access to the Government backed CBILS scheme where this is the most appropriate solution.”

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/aib-joins-list-of-business-interruption-loan-approved-lenders/

50,000 North West businesses still waiting for emergency coronavirus grants

More than 50,000 North West businesses are still waiting for emergency grants from the Government, six weeks after Chancellor Rishi Sunak launched the rescue package.

More than £1.7bn was allocated for 140,000 small businesses and those operating in the retail and leisure sectors as part of the measures to prevent an economic catastrophe following on from the Covid-19 pandemic.

But TheBusinessDesk.com can reveal that only 59% of eligible businesses in the region had received the money by the start of this week – the second-worst performance among the nine English regions.

Across England, 62% of grants have been paid out with businesses receiving £7.6bn. However £4.7bn remained unpaid, including £720m due to North West businesses.

The payments are from the Government’s small business grants fund and the retail, hospitality and leisure business grants fund.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced on March 17 – the Tuesday before lockdown began – that the Government would hand out grants to nearly 1m small businesses.

All businesses eligible for small business rates relief or rural rates relief can receive a £10,000 grant.

Specific support was provided to shops, restaurants, bars and other leisure operators. Businesses which are eligible for the expanded retail discount will receive a £10,000 grant if its rateable value is up to £15,000, and a grant of £25,000 if its rateable value is between £15,000 and £51,000.

Nationally 345,000 of the 959,000 eligible businesses were still waiting to receive their money by Sunday, more than one month into the lockdown which has sent shockwaves through the economy.

It has also put increased pressure on stretched local authorities, which are dealing with the long-term effects of a decade of local government cuts, the short-term disruption to their own operations, and additional demands on its services.

Cllr Miles Parkinson, leader of Hyndburn Borough Council which is third in the North West rankings having paid out 77% of its £25m funding, said: “Our staff have worked incredibly hard in difficult circumstances, including working long hours and weekends to ensure this money, which will be a lifeline to many local businesses, has reached them as soon as possible.

“It’s a testament to their dedication to the local community, delivering this money quickly to where it is needed.”

There is a huge disparity between the performance of local authorities, with more than seven out of 10 businesses still waiting for money in some parts of the country.

Five authorities – Sandwell, Harrow, Slough, Tendring and South Derbyshire – had paid out less than 30% of their allocation by Sunday night, and 41 authorities had distributed less than half.

However Ealing, Epping Forest and Westminster had all allocated more than 90% of their funding.

In the North West the bottom two places for payments were occupied by the authorities with the least and the most amount of money to allocate.

Barrow-in-Furness has paid out just 34% of the £17m it has been given from HM Treasury while Manchester had distributed 37% of its £121m allocation.

Manchester City Council has nearly 10,000 eligible businesses to deal with, which it described as a “major task”.

A council spokesperson said: “The reality is that Manchester has a lot more businesses to support than other local authorities, along with some very complex cases.

“We’ve redirected a lot of Council staff from other areas to help with the volume and to request missing information and push out payments as quickly as possible.”

Its payments have been accelerating and it now has a run rate of more than £5m per day, with the expectation it will “pay out against the majority of applications in the next week”.

Preston Council, which had distributed just 39% of its £35m, blamed “a significant number of incomplete or inaccurate applications” as well as “businesses not registering for NNDR [national non-domestic rates], partnerships submitting separate applications, and ratepayers failing to update the council following a change of name or premises”.

Adrian Phillips, Preston City Council chief executive, added: “We understand this is a stressful time for businesses and we continue to issue payments daily to ensure we can to get this money to the right people as soon as we can, working at pace and prioritising.

“The team is going above and beyond where there is an issue to find solutions by proactively working with the businesses.”

Andy Devaney, director of business innovation at Cheshire & Warrington LEP, said many applications for financial support had been hampered by lack of details.

He said: “The main sticking point with the £10k and £25k grants is that businesses don’t know they need to provide their details.

“Maybe it’s because they’re paying their business rates through a national company or they are small operators and so don’t know they have to provide their details.

“We have been doing a lot around that to raise the awareness Once they complete the form and submit their details, payment will come through automatically.”

The North West’s best-performing local authority, Ribble Valley, is one of three in the region to have distributed more than three-quarters of its grants.

Ribble Valley Borough Council leader Stephen Atkinson said it was “a tremendous achievement” to have already paid out more than £15m of its £19m allocation.

He said: “As a district council we are best-placed to understand our businesses, which has helped to make the process of paying the grants fast and efficient.

“Our finance staff also have a high level of knowledge and we have moved colleagues from other areas of the organisation to assist them, meaning they have been able to undertake the necessary checks, while processing the grants quickly.”

Rossendale Borough Council has paid out 78% of its £19m funding, putting it second in the North West rankings.

Council leader Cllr Alyson Barnes said: “We are really pleased to have helped so many businesses. Supporting local companies is a top priority for us and we are doing everything we can to help during this difficult time.

“The process has worked really well, thanks in no small way to our dedicated teams which have worked round the clock to get these funds to businesses.”

https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/northwest/news/2059146-50000-north-west-businesses-still-waiting-for-emergency-coronavirus-grants

Feeling anxious?

Anxiety is something everyone experiences at times, and feeling anxious is a perfectly natural reaction to some situations.

But sometimes feelings of anxiety can be constant, overwhelming or out of proportion to the situation and this can affect your daily life.

The good news is there are plenty of things you can try to help cope with anxiety. We also have specific tips and expert advice to help you look after your mental health and wellbeing if you are feeling worried or anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19).

What is anxiety?

Anxiety is a feeling of unease, like a worry or fear, that can be mild or severe. Everyone feels anxious from time to time and it usually passes once the situation is over.

It can make our heart race, we might feel sweaty, shaky or short of breath. Anxiety can also cause changes in our behaviour, such as becoming overly careful or avoiding things that trigger anxiety.

When anxiety becomes a problem, our worries can be out of proportion with relatively harmless situations. It can feel more intense or overwhelming, and interfere with our everyday lives and relationships.

The tips on this page should help you manage feelings of anxiety. But if your anxiety is affecting your daily life or causing you distress, you could consider seeking further support.

Top tips to cope with anxiety

Understand your anxiety

Try keeping a diary of what you are doing and how you feel at different times to help identify what's affecting you and what you need to take action on.

Challenge your anxious thoughts

Tackling unhelpful thoughts is one of the best things we can do to feel less anxious. Watch the video to find out more.

Make time for worries

If your worry feels overwhelming and takes over your day, setting specific "worry time" to go through your concerns each day can help you to focus on other things. Watch the video for more advice.

Shift your focus

Some people find relaxation, mindfulness or breathing exercises helpful. They reduce tension and focus our awareness on the present moment.

Face the things you want to avoid

It's easy to avoid situations, or rely on habits that make us feel safer, but these can keep anxiety going. By slowly building up time in worrying situations, anxious feelings will gradually reduce and you will see these situations are OK.

Get to grips with the problem

When you're feeling stressed or anxious, it can help to use a problem-solving technique to identify some solutions. This can make the challenges you're facing feel more manageable.

What causes anxiety?

Anxiety affects everyone differently and can be brought on by different situations or experiences. It is our body's natural reaction to perceived danger, focusing our attention and giving us a rush of adrenaline to react, sometimes called the "fight or flight" response.

Sometimes it can be difficult to know what is making you anxious, which can be upsetting or stressful in itself. That's why learning to recognise what is making you anxious can help so you can deal with the uncertainty better.

Some people naturally react more than others, and there are times when everyone may go through stressful situations and feel anxious because of uncertainty or perceived threat.

There are lots of things that can influence our mental health, such as our upbringing, childhood environment, things that happen to us and even our temperament. Learn more about what affects our mental health and what support is available for life's challenges.

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/anxiety/


28/04/2020

Providing apprenticeships during the coronavirus outbreak

Guidance for apprentices, employers, training providers and assessment organisations about changes to apprenticeships due to coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is a difficult time for apprentices, employers and providers of apprenticeship training, assessment and external assurance. The government is committed to supporting apprentices, and employers continue to build the skills capabilities the country needs now and in the future.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) is responding by taking steps to ensure that, wherever possible, apprentices can continue and complete their apprenticeship, despite any break they need to take as a result of COVID-19, and to support providers during this challenging time. Here is an overview and links to additional guidance:

The support we are providing includes:

  • confirming flexibilities to allow furloughed apprentices to continue their training and to take their end-point assessment, and to allow existing furloughed employees to start a new apprenticeship, as long as it does not provide services to or generate revenue for their employer
  • encouraging training providers to deliver training to apprentices remotely, and via e-learning, as far as is practicable
  • allowing the modification of end-point assessment arrangements, including remote assessments wherever practicable and possible - this is in order to support employers, providers and end-point assessment organisation (EPAOs) to maintain progress and achievement for apprentices
  • clarifying that apprentices ready for assessment, but who cannot be assessed due to COVID-19 issues, can have their end-point assessment rescheduled
  • apprentices whose gateway is delayed can have an extension to the assessment time frame
  • enabling employers and training providers to report and initiate a break in learning, where the interruption to learning due to COVID-19 is greater than 4 weeks
  • clarification on how to record breaks in learning in March so that funding is not unnecessarily disrupted
  • confirming that, where apprentices are made redundant, it is our ambition to find them alternative employment and continue their apprenticeship as quickly as possible and within 12 weeks
  • confirming that where apprentices are made redundant and are ready to go through gateway, that providers and EPAOs are able to make the necessary assessment arrangements to support these apprentices

We are keeping the developing situation, and our guidance, under review and will continue updating this guidance as new information is available and/or the situation evolves.

The information should be read alongside the government’s COVID-19 guidance and support for businesses, in particular the salary support for furloughed employees, which also applies to apprentices.

Read guidance from the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education (IFATE) on the delivery of assessment.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-apprenticeship-programme-response?utm_source=6b6f1c1f-c8a1-4a49-9320-1b7ebb4f1b95&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=govuk-notifications&utm_content=immediate

New mental health telephone support service launches in Stockport

Open Door, a new mental health crisis centre, has launched a telephone support service due to the Covid-19 crisis. The service was commissioned by Stockport CCG to provide a safe haven for people having a mental health crisis and will offer telephone support until a centre in central Stockport can open.

The 24/7 Open Door helpline will be operated by Mental Health Matters, and provide rapid access to telephone based ongoing support. The service on 0800 138 7276 currently has no waiting list. It is open to any resident of Stockport aged 18+.

Follow up appointments, with level 3 trained counsellors, will be offered via telephone, Whatsapp video call or Facebook Messenger video call. They will be available from 10am-8pm seven days a week, provided by health and social care charity, Making Space.

Liz Butler, Peripatetic Service Manager, Making Space, said:

Stockport citizens aged 18 and above can now access the Open Door 24/7 helpline. It is for people who may be struggling to cope, feeling low, anxious, stressed, or be experiencing extreme emotional distress.

“Although the physical Open Door safe haven in the town centre will not be opening at present, a video/telephone appointment based service will be on offer for those who need it.

“Professionals, family members and carers can also call this number for guidance.

“Contacting the helpline can give a feeling of relief, wellbeing and peace of mind. We won’t judge, and our service is confidential unless the caller poses a risk to themselves or others.

“You do not need to be referred to the service, and you do not need to have a formal mental health diagnosis in order to access support.”

The service is not suitable for anyone requiring urgent medical treatment or someone who is acutely unwell and is not a replacement for specialist crisis services.

Open Door was commissioned by Stockport CCG after extensive review and research of the current population needs. The CCG’s Mental Health Investment Plan identified access and crisis as key themes and approved additional investment to develop the new mental health crisis pathway.

The Open Door helpline number is0800 138 7276.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/new-mental-health-telephone-support-service-launches-in-stockport/

Apply for a coronavirus Bounce Back Loan

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will help small and medium-sized businesses to borrow between £2,000 and £50,000.

The government will guarantee 100% of the loan and there won’t be any fees or interest to pay for the first 12 months.

Loan terms will be up to 6 years. No repayments will be due during the first 12 months. The government will work with lenders to agree a low rate of interest for the remaining period of the loan.

The scheme will be delivered through a network of accredited lenders.

Eligibility

You can apply for a loan if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • has been negatively affected by coronavirus
  • was not an ‘undertaking in difficulty’ on 31 December 2019

Who cannot apply

The following businesses are not eligible to apply:

  • banks, insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector bodies
  • further-education establishments, if they are grant-funded
  • state-funded primary and secondary schools

If you’re already claiming funding

You cannot apply if you’re already claiming under the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

If you’ve already received a loan of up to £50,000 under CBILS and would like to transfer it into the Bounce Back Loan scheme, you can arrange this with your lender until 4 November 2020.

How to apply

The Bounce Back Loan scheme will launch on 4 May 2020.

More information about the scheme will be published shortly.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apply-for-a-coronavirus-bounce-back-loan

Personal Affairs Guide

This is a guide for families and individuals on how to financially survive or manage through the Pandemic. It is a tough time for many of us and the idea of this guide is to help people who may have reduced employment income and increased uncertainty about their future. The aim of this guide is to highlight the main areas which can make a difference and may remind you about something you have not yet done.

Below is a table showing the various areas which you should consider when addressing your personal financial situation. The table has a column on the right hand side which can be filled out as each area is addressed.

TOPIC

AREA

ADDRESSED?

Build up cash

Prepare a budget

 
 

Reduce costs where possible

 
 

Build up cash

 
     

Tax

Universal Credit

 
 

Job Seekers Allowance

 
 

Child Benefit

 
 

Self-Assessment Deferral

 
 

Working From Home Allowance

 
     

House

Mortgage

 
 

Rent

 
 

Utility Bills

 
 

Council Tax

 
     

Finances

Credit Cards / Personal Loans / Overdrafts

 
 

Car Finance / Pay Day Loans

 
 

Self Employed Grant Scheme

 
     

Other

MOT Deferral

 
 

Vehicle SORN

 

Build up cash

Prepare a budget

The starting point is to create a budget on a monthly or weekly basis showing the expected money coming in (from employment, savings etc) and what expenses are likely to be incurred. This way you can understand the facts of the situation before deciding what needs addressing and how much of a gap there is to fill. It is highly likely that if employment income has reduced then expenditure also needs to reduce.

Reduce costs where possible

The initial reaction to the uncertainty, and in many cases reduced income, is to reduce household expenditure. Some expenses such as travel and eating out will already have reduced given the lockdown. You can also stop spending on non-essential items for the time being and trying to save some cash for an emergency fund. Examples include:

  • Gym membership
  • TV sport packages (given there is no sport being played)
  • Travel season tickets can be part-refunded for the portion which is not being used
  • Prepaid nursery fees or exercise classes may not be refundable but is worth checking, even if it means the payments can be converted into credit for the future when they can be used

Build up cash

Given the travel restrictions many holidays and other future commitments are no longer going ahead so there may be refunds available or insurance claims to be made. Securing these will help generate cash.

Most banks will now waive the redemption fee on cash held in a fixed term savings accounts which is another way to give a buffer in difficult times. Only dip into your savings if necessary.

Another option available to people with good credit history is to take out a 0% on purchases credit card which can give 0% interest on purchases made for 12, 18 or 24 months. This is only a temporary measure and you need to be confident they can repay the amount at the end of the term as this is effectively taking on additional debt – albeit at 0% interest.

Tax

Universal Credit

Universal credit, the UK government social security payment, now covers most of the benefits available to individuals. There is a detailed guide which can be provided covering all considerations of Universal Credit. The key points are:

  • A change to working hours / pay may mean that an individual can claim an increased Universal Credit payment
  • Self-employed and zero-hour contract workers can receive Universal Credit
  • The typical 5-week lag before receiving payments for Universal Credit can be shortened by an emergency Universal Credit loan which is then paid off by future Universal Credit payments

See: https://www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Job Seekers Allowance

Those who have lost their job may be eligible for ‘New Style Employment and Support Allowance’. This applies to people who have been employees (not self-employed) in the last 2 or 3 years.

https://www.gov.uk/jobseekers-allowance/eligibility

Child Benefit

With many employees and the self-employed being furloughed, being made redundant or making lower profits their income for 2020/21 may well fall below the £50,000 limit at which child benefit starts being taxed. The charge is 1% for every £100 that adjusted net income exceeds £50,000 multiplied by the child benefit claimed in respect of the children. Note that the rate of Child benefit increased from 6 April to £21.05 a week for the eldest child and £13.95 for each additional child. Many couples with income over £60,000, when the benefit is fully taxed stopped claiming Child Benefit rather than having to repay it back in tax. They should therefore reinstate their claims if the income of the higher paid taxpayer drops back below £60,000.

Self-Assessment Deferral

The next deadline for self-assessment tax is 1 July 2020 for the second payment on account. This can now be deferred until 31 January 2021 which gives a cash boost for the next 6 months but remember this is tax due so will need to be paid when due.

Working from home allowance

If you are required to work from home, possibly as a result of the lockdown, employers are required to pay a working from home allowance to their employees. This can either be a flat rate of £6 a week or can be calculated as the directly incurred increase in expenses.

House

Mortgage

Banks have been required to provide 3 months mortgage relief to borrowers as a result of Covid-19. People should contact their lender directly and in many cases this can be done online. Do not cancel the direct debit to the bank as this will be classed as a missed payment and recorded on your credit file. Eligibility criteria are that mortgage payments are up to date and the individual has been impacted by Covid-19 (self-certified). Interest will still accrue on the mortgage for the 3-month period but no cash payments are needed to be made.

Other options which may be relevant include switching to an interest only mortgage and extending the term of the mortgage.

Rent

The government has brought forward protections for private and social renters such that landlords will have to give renters 3 months’ notice if they intend to seek possession (i.e. serve notice that they want to end the tenancy). This legislation is in force until 30 September 2020 but may be extended.

If a renter is having difficulty paying their rent then they should communicate with their landlord and reach an agreement. The landlord can apply for the 3-month mortgage relief mentioned above which would be expected to be passed on to the renter.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-and-renting-guidance-for-landlords-tenants-and-local-authorities

Utility Costs

If not already done so, this may be a good opportunity to shop around for new gas, electricity, water and broadband providers to save money. Note that if a physical installation is needed to take place then it will not be possible to do so until after lockdown is lifted.

Helpful guide on household costs here: https://www.moneysavingexpert.com/news/2020/03/uk-coronavirus-help-and-your-rights/

Council Tax

Many councils have been accommodating to individuals struggling to pay their council tax. There is no country wide standard for this so it is a case of reviewing the local council’s website and approaching them directly to see what help they can provide.

Finances

Credit Cards / Personal Loans / Overdrafts

The FCA has recently brought in a series of measures to support individuals who have personal finance. The summary terms are:

  • Offer a temporary payment freeze on loans and credit cards for up to three months, for consumers negatively impacted by coronavirus
  • Allow customers who are negatively impacted by coronavirus and who already have an arranged overdraft on their main personal current account, up to £500 charged at zero interest for three months
  • Make sure that all overdraft customers are no worse off on price when compared to the prices they were charged before the recent overdraft pricing changes came into force
  • Ensure consumers using any of these temporary payment freeze measures will not have their credit file affected

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-confirms-temporary-financial-relief-customers-impacted-coronavirus

If someone has a permanent / large balance on a credit card they have two main options available:

  1. If possible, do a 0% balance transfer to another credit card: or
  2. Speak to the credit card company, explain that you have been impacted by Covid-19 and try to reach an arrangement

Car Finance / Pay Day Lenders

The FCA has also brought in measures to protect consumers who have the following financial products:

  • Motor finance – Firms are required to provide a 3-month payment freeze to customers who are having temporary difficulties meeting finance or leasing payments due to coronavirus. Firms are also expected to act fairly if the lease has come to an end and the individual cannot make the balloon payment.
  • High-cost short-term credit (including payday loans) - Firms are required to provide a 1-month payment freeze to customers facing temporary payment difficulties due to the coronavirus pandemic. No additional interest should be charged to the customer as a result of the payment freeze.
  • Other credit products - Firms that provide Rent-to-own, Buy-now-pay-later, or pawnbroking agreements to provide a 3-month payment freeze to customers facing payment difficulties due to coronavirus. Pawnbrokers should agree not to sell an item for the 3-month period.

https://www.fca.org.uk/news/press-releases/fca-confirms-support-motor-finance-and-high-cost-credit-customers

Self Employed Grant Scheme

The government scheme to support the self-employed protect individuals if they have suffered a loss in income. In this instance, a taxable grant will be paid to the self-employed or partnerships, worth 80% of profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. If considering applying for this grant we encourage you to speak to your accountants who can help guide you through the process.

Other

MOT Deferral

A car, van or motorcycle’s MOT expiry date will be extended by 6 months if it is due on or after 30 March 2020 - but the vehicle must be kept safe to drive.

Vehicle SORN

Vehicles that are not on the road don't need to be insured. If a vehicle is no longer needed an individual can apply for a Statutory Off Road Notification (SORN) to officially declare it 'off road' indefinitely (assuming it can be parked on private property). Once it is certified, the insurance and road tax no longer need to be paid and any refunds can be reclaimed.

Greater Manchester businesses urged to urgently access £629m coronavirus grant support funding

Businesses that are the main rate payer of business rates can be eligible for grant support of between £10,000 and £25,000 and may miss out on vital financial support if they do not apply by the end of April.

It is vital that eligible businesses contact their Local Authority to apply for a grant. Funding is available for eligible companies but councils administering schemes may not have contact details for businesses, many of which are temporarily closed due to coronavirus.

  • The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) will provide businesses with a grant of £10,000 to help support them during the Covid-19 crisis. This grant is for businesses, with a property, that as of 11 March 2020, were in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief.
  • The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) will offer businesses in these sectors across Greater Manchester a grant of up to £25,000. This grant is for businesses in those sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000 and who would have been eligible for the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme. For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less the grant will be £10,000. For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000-£51,000 the grant will be £25,000.

Businesses need to apply via the Local Authority where they are located, with links provided here for each of the 10 Greater Manchester boroughs.

  • Bolton – click here.
  • Bury – click here.
  • Manchester – click here.
  • Oldham – click here.
  • Rochdale – click here.
  • Salford – click here.
  • Stockport – click here.
  • Tameside – click here.
  • Trafford – click here.
  • Wigan – click here.

Businesses can also find out if they are eligible by clicking here and here.

Mayor Andy Burnham, along with Greater Manchester Local Authority leaders, members of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, and the Growth Company, is working to ensure that businesses are accessing the support that is available for them.

Mayor Andy Burnham said: “Colleagues in all of Greater Manchester’s Local Authorities are working flat out to get this money out to businesses who so desperately need it to survive. I would encourage you to apply if you think you might be eligible. We think there are more businesses eligible than have yet applied and we want to make sure this support reaches those businesses who need it.

“We know there are some gaps in the grant scheme available, such as for small firms that operate from shared working spaces. I am working closely with local leaders to raise these gaps with Government and to ensure the Chancellor delivers on his commitments to do whatever it takes to support businesses and hard-working citizens through this crisis.”

Lou Cordwell and Mo Isap, co-chairs of Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “We know there has been some confusion about the grants available to businesses but we urge any small business that are the main business rate payer and so may be eligible to get in touch with their Local Authority as soon as possible.”

In addition to Local Authority grant funding, £3m of loan funding is available for qualifying businesses via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for Greater Manchester.

Greater Manchester LEP, working with the Growth Company, has unlocked an initial £3m package of urgently needed financial support for Greater Manchester businesses via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for Greater Manchester. Administered by GC Business Finance (GCBF), the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for Greater Manchester is now ready to provide loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 to qualifying companies. To find out more, visit GCBF.

https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/resources/2020/04/greater-manchester-businesses-urged-to-access-coronavirus-grant-support-funding


27/04/2020

Pivoting and repurposing a business

Covid-19 has had a big impact on many SMEs in the UK. A recent study by the Office for National Statistics showed that nearly 40% of businesses in the UK had a substantially lower turnover. With the current level of disruption likely to remain for some time, many businesses are adapting their practices to continue trading in some form.

For businesses in this position they may also benefit from reviewing their vision and strategy through our Business One Page Plan process. This is a condensed business plan which focuses business owners’ minds on the key areas that will make an impact in the business.

As businesses consider their options the diagram below shows what paths are available:

live-blog-chart-paths.png

For businesses which have been negatively impacted and are considering how to adapt, they have two main choices:

  • Continue providing the same product / service in broadly the same way to the same customers (e.g. restaurants providing take away service); and
  • Repurposing or Pivoting the business to provide a new service (which is now in high demand) to a new customer

In either case the benefit of adapting is that the business remains open, employees are retained, and the organisation is seen as being agile and innovative.

In the case of repurposing there may also be an additional benefit of strengthening the values and reputation of the business as it has risen to support the community in a health crisis.

Deciding which choice to make

Questions that a business owner should ask before deciding what to do:

Continue providing the same product / service

  • What is the current demand for my product / service and how will that change over time?
  • How can I adapt the business to continue serving these customers?
  • What is the financial impact (revenue and costs) of this choice?

Repurpose / Pivot

  • Are any of the current products / services which are in high demand (e.g. PPE, accommodation for NHS staff) which the business could repurpose to serve?
  • What is the current and future demand of this product / service?
  • What is the financial impact (revenue and costs) of this choice?

For either option the business owner also needs to confirm that they can ensure the safety of all staff and stakeholders no matter what decision.

Having considered the two choices above, there may be an obvious outcome. However, if not then this may be a good opportunity to raise it with the wider team to get their views. This can engage the team into finding creative solutions – some of which may have a lasting positive impact once the pandemic has passed.

Some businesses will be able to continue trading and repurpose. In this case the business owner should consider whether the business can do both activities or have to make a decision between the two.

Continue Trading

When a business chooses to continue to trade it means that there is still demand from the customer and (somehow) they can deliver that service. The obvious example is a restaurant that now provides take away food or a pub providing alcohol sales for take away. However, many businesses can continue to provide a service where it may not be immediately obvious.

A hairdresser for example may still be able to sell their product range online, provide an online tutorial for basic hairdressing and even do virtual hairdressing appointments. Several other examples are shown below:

live-blog-examples.png

Repurposing / Pivoting

When a business chooses to repurpose, this is to address an increase in demand for a product / service as a result of Covid-19.

Some of the high-profile repurposing’s have been to address the UK Government Ventilator Challenge (e.g. McLaren and Dyson) however there are many smaller examples which are likely to be more relevant for 2020 member clients.

The decision to repurpose a business should be done in conjunction with the relevant government department / trade body / relevant organization to ensure compliance with the various regulations and laws – especially if manufacturing healthcare equipment.

live-blog-table.jpg

Determining what products / services are in demand and which your business is best placed to fulfil may be obvious but may also require some thought. The World Health Organisation (WHO) has provided some guidance on this below.

In addition to the WHO guidance there are some further examples of businesses pivoting recently:

live-blog-examples-2.png

Many of the examples above also have a positive PR impact, however, for a business owner trying to find a way to keep their business operating it is important to find a substantive pivot with sustainable financial performance.

Of course, when repurposing a business may have a new supply chain and a new customer.

These should both be identified along with the financial considerations (cost of materials / inputs, set up costs and operating costs) before going ahead with the project to ensure that it is feasible.

Determining the selling price for the new product / service is a key sensitivity. Some repurposed businesses have decided to give away their product (e.g. BrewDog producing hand sanitizer is giving it away to the NHS) and in other circumstances the business is free to select the price.

Whilst high demand can often lead to pricing power, in these exceptional circumstances it is key to remember the wider context of the crisis and the potential reputation impact of setting prices too high. Some businesses have clearly taken the view that giving back to the community as well as the likely reputational enhancement are enough.

When repurposing a business, it is worth remembering that there will be a new product and customer. Whilst there may be ample demand, this is also an area where the business lacks expertise. Therefore, it is important for a business to take advice and make sure it understands the supply chain, competencies required to provide the good / service and who it is selling to.

Other considerations

When considering any change, a business should ensure it has the necessary permissions and approvals before progressing. In some cases, the government has made this easier – for example extending permitted development rights for restaurants so they do not need to apply for planning permission to provide take away food.

Talk to us if you are planning changes in your business. We have the tools and resources to help you achieve your goals.

Does the Supply Chain Look the Same After COVID-19 as Before?

In recent years, it has become a bit of a mantra in business that supply chains are complex and time sensitive – frequently ever longer, leaner and often global, just-in-time supply. But few people have really understood just how complex they have become, how fragile some of the interdependencies are, and the systemic risks potentially contained within them. The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) erupted into this complexity like a bunker-busting bomb, leaving trailing elements, broken links and dead ends. Recessions usually come about progressively, and businesses adjust as the environment around them changes. No one has ever before experienced governments of large parts of the world simply shutting down great swathes of economic activity, more or less overnight. The effect has been dramatic.

Organisations and companies have found that many layers of tiered supply, in many different places, sit behind the products and services they routinely procure. Adaptation, where possible, has had to happen suddenly. Company management has had to devote a great deal of time and energy to, among other things, employment and financial health issues simply to ensure short-term survival. Recent conversation suggests that some businesses are also starting to look to the future. New partnerships are forming, and building in supplier and supply chain flexibility will be key to coping with uncertainty.

“Never Again”

While governments will no doubt plan much better for this kind of contingency in the future, companies are unlikely to pin their trust wholly onto the ability of government to avoid such seismic disruption. So significant adjustment to supply chains is likely, with companies trying to reduce fragility and build in greater resilience. In addition, companies will try to assess better where risk sits geographically – for example, a supplier in Italy could have found themselves shut down, but in Germany the customer for their components was continuing to operate and needing their production. But this will be hard to do: the difference between Italian and German restrictions reflected the realities of this pandemic, and is not a predictor of the future.

Some Pointers for the Future

Companies Will Devote More Attention to Understanding Their Supply Chains Better

Most companies know their major suppliers pretty well. They have a good idea of critical dependencies, such as rare and unique components. But many have not typically had to pay much attention to their supplier’s suppliers (and beyond), or indeed properly evaluated their whole supply chain exposure, except in some quite defined contexts. We can expect companies to give much closer scrutiny going forwards to precisely how their total supply chain is constructed, and where the dependencies are, and to want to negotiate contracts that give them a high degree of assurance and protection for the future. It will not be a race to the bottom either – as to drive down cost, for ever greater savings, often necessarily drives in additional risk, too. Being proactive in addressing all such risks can deliver competitive advantage.

Companies Will Look for Greater Diversity

Geography has suddenly started to matter more in the globalised world. Companies will look much harder at where their supply chain comes from and passes through. They will look for diversity in supply, both in terms of suppliers and geographies, to spread risk, reduce particular dependencies, give greater flexibility and (hopefully) further assure continuity of supply for future eventualities. The latter will undoubtedly pose challenges, partly in ensuring consistency of quality, regulatory adherence and alignment, etc., and partly in understanding geopolitical and other risks inherent in dealing with particular geographies – assessing risks in jurisdiction, business practices, skills, logistics and transport, etc.

Technology Will Play More of a Role

New technologies, such as 3D printing, offer potentially interesting and innovative ways to strengthen and shorten existing lines of supply, including in-house production of products, parts and key components. Embracing technology could well have a major effect on how global trade operates in the future. Blockchain technology, too, has recently been touted as a potential answer to improved supply chain transparency and product provenance, including assistance with product quality, recall, tracing issues, etc. Companies will also be attracted to the opportunities for carbon reduction that new technologies could offer. In addition, smart robotics, if necessary supported by a skeleton staff, could even keep suppliers’ factories running if workforces are significantly impacted by another pandemic. Does the Supply Chain Look the Same After COVID-19 as Before?

Localisation, Up to a Point

There is much talk of re-shoring, and some of it may happen. But companies will still want the benefit of scale that they have seen over the past decades. So do not expect to see a huge surge in manufacturing in what are increasingly service-based economies. Shorter supply chains, both geographical and in tiered complexity, but which still capture benefits of scale, will be the likely desired outcome for most.

China

The crisis has underlined the central position China now occupies in the global economy. The push for greater diversity and reduced dependency in the supply chain will coincide with an increasingly forthright US position towards China (which is completely bipartisan – do not expect it to soften according to the result of the US elections this year). China, and choices about the extent of a company’s reliance on Chinese supply, will preoccupy the boardroom more in the coming years.

https://www.gmchamber.co.uk/media/3847793/2020-covid-19-does-the-supply-chain-look-the-same-after-cv-19-38033.pdf

Cybercriminals target those working from home with fake software

Currently around 30% of the UK are working from home during the Coronavirus pandemic which has created an abundance of opportunity for cybercriminals.

Security researchers have recently discovered brand new Spyware and Surveillanceware within fake programs purporting to be legitimate meeting and message programs such as Skype and other applications.

These programs have primarily been distributed via phishing emails, with links to malicious websites where users are able to download the malware.

Surveillanceware and Spyware have the capabilities of tracking what you do on your device, watching what you type and potentially gaining access to your webcam and microphone. Criminals use this malware to spy on their victims and to chance at stealing personal, confidential data such as credentials and banking information.

During the pandemic there has been an alarming increase in cyber-attacks as criminals attempt to exploit the public with large amounts of phishing, spear phishing, door-to-door scams and fake social media posts related to COVID-19.

It is imperative that you remain vigilant when handling your mailboxes and double check everything before clicking on any links or providing any personal information.

When installing new programs it is critical that you only download software from the official website or to contact your IT department and ask for their assistance.

Keep up to date with all of the latest Coronavirus scams and our advice on how to work from home securely by visiting the Cyber Wise COVID-19 page.

Six actions for finance professionals on cash flow

This guide, created by the ICAEW Business and Management Faculty, shares six practical actions finance professionals may wish to consider. Some options may be appropriate for your circumstances, but this may not always be the case. Because every business is different, this is general guidance and you should take appropriate professional advice on the circumstances of the business. The Hallidays team are here to help on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Actions:

  1. manage cash outflows
  2. take professional advice
  3. manage cash inflows
  4. access government-backed support
  5. contact your bank and/or finance providers
  6. update your cashflow forecast

Action 1: manage cash outflows

Consider:

  • Making changes to financial management actions and processes to manage cashflow efficiently.
  • Raising awareness about the importance of cash in your business. Make it clear how important it is to know when suppliers are anticipating payment and go through creditor schedules regularly.
  • Contacting your landlord and lenders to seek time to pay, forbearance on interest rates, capital repayments and terms of current overdraft where appropriate.
  • Communicating regularly with your landlord and critical business suppliers and pay to terms where appropriate.

Action 2: take professional advice

  • Talk to your business adviser. Our Hallidays team are here to support you and your business. Contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Action 3: manage cash inflows

Consider:

  • Making changes to financial management actions and processes to manage cashflow efficiently.
  • Raising awareness about the importance of cash in your business. Make it clear how important it is to know when customers are anticipated to pay and regularly review aged debtor schedules.
  • Being in communication with key or major customers on a regular basis so you keep ahead of their circumstances. Assign clear responsibility for review and regularly communication with each key relationship with a view to preserving the long-term relationship.
  • Arranging to collect new sales on order or delivery and seek to collect from customers who are due to pay. Assign actions to staff and check they happen.
  • Checking the terms of business insurance policy in case it covers pandemics or government ordered closure. Stay in touch with your insurance provider as appropriate.

Action 4: access government-backed support

Governments across the world have responded to help business during the crisis in ways relevant to their local economies. ICAEW is a member body of IFAC, an organisation comprising more than 175 member and associate bodies in 130 countries and jurisdictions, reaching nearly 3 million professional accountants. IFAC has developed a dedicated web area with essential resources, guidance and advice from local member bodies and other stakeholders.

In the UK, the Government has released a range of business support measures for UK businesses during the coronavirus pandemic. Consider:

For businesses:

Review the range of government-backed support, including:

For self-employed:

For charities:

On 9 April 2020, the Chancellor announced £750m of support for frontline charities across the UK. For more information, click here.

It is important to keep checking the UK Government website (including the dedicated financial support page) and ICAEW’s Coronavirus Hub for updates on a regular basis as new detail on how to access this support becomes available daily. Also, please consider the following guidance when contacting HMRC.

For insight on the queries ICAEW has raised with HMRC and to hear an update on the latest available guidance, watch the recording of the experts from the ICAEW Tax Faculty.

Action 5: contact your bank and/or finance providers

Consider:

  • Contacting your lender and seek forbearance on interest rates, capital repayments and terms of current overdraft.
  • Talking to shareholders about further injections or loans.
  • If your business is UK-based activity, with annual turnover up to £45m, you may be able to access funding of up to £5m via the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS). Consider the following:
    • Check your business’ eligibility here.
    • You will need to apply for funding via your bank, or one of the accredited lenders.
    • Be prepared to support your application. Each bank will have their own requirements, but typically these may include management accounts, cash flow forecast, business plan, historic accounts and details of assets.
    • Understand the security requirements, including personal guarantees that may be required on loans above £250,000.
    • An update on the scheme can be found here and more detail on this scheme is available on the British Business Bank's website in FAQs for SMEs: Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and how to apply.
    • For insight on how to prepare a strong CBILS application, click here.
  • If your business is UK-based activity, with annual turnover of over £45m, you may be able to access funding of up to £50m via the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS). Consider the following:
    • Check your business' eligibility here.
    • You will need to apply for funding via one of the accredited lenders.
    • You cannot apply if you have utilised the Bank of England’s COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) – see below.
    • Be prepared to support your application. Each bank will have their own requirements, but typically these may include management accounts, cash flow forecast, business plan, historic accounts and details of assets.
    • Understand the security requirements, including personal guarantees that may be required on loans above £250,000.
    • More detail on this scheme is available on the British Business Bank’s website in FAQs for Business: Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) and how to apply.
    • For insight on how to prepare a strong CLBILS application, click here.
  • A new lending facility from the Bank of England is available to help support liquidity among larger businesses, helping them bridge coronavirus disruption to their cash flows through loans, under the COVID Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF). Consider the following:
    • Check your business’ eligibility here.
    • You will need to apply via your bank or, if your bank does not issue commercial paper, one of the accredited lenders.
    • If the bank considers that your business is eligible, you will need to prepare documentation including:
      • an issuer eligibility form.
      • an issuer undertaking and confidentiality agreement.
      • a guarantee.
      • a legal agreement from the primary entity in your business’ group.
      • evidence of authority to sign on behalf of the business.
    • The bank will help you submit the documentation to the CCFF.
    • More details on this facility is available on the Bank of England’s website here.
  • Loans may not be suitable for all businesses and even grants may not meet some companies' need for funding. Schemes and incentives which encourage and stimulate private investment into such businesses are useful. Launching in May 2020, the Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-registered companies ranging from £125,000 to £5m, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors. Announced by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, the fund will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and will run until at least the end of September.
  • The Business Finance Guide, created by the British Business Bank and the ICAEW Corporate Finance Faculty provides information on working capital solutions and sources of professional advice. The website also gives insight on managing cash in times of change and uncertainty.

Action 6: update your cashflow forecast

Consider:

  • Refreshing your cashflow forecast on a regular basis. Your Hallidays team can support you with this.
  • Reflecting government-backed support, business rates holidays, cash grants and loans that you are eligible for, noting the exact timing of the availability of this support remains uncertain and assumptions in cashflow forecasts should be monitored closely.
  • Regularly updating your cashflow forecast for key assumptions, including the effect of lower sales or delayed or bad debt on your cash position. Make sure you know your cash situation on a basis that makes sense for the nature of your business – this could be daily or could be monthly. You need to know how much cash your business can draw upon, what the position will be under different scenarios and intervals, and the extend of additional finance required.

https://www.icaew.com/technical/business-and-management/financial-management/financial-management-implications-of-coronavirus

Our Hallidays team are here to support you and your business. Contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme

Find out if you can use the Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme to reclaim employees' coronavirus-related Statutory Sick Pay (SSP). The online service you’ll use to reclaim SSP is not available yet. HMRC will announce when the service is available and this guidance will be updated.

Read more about who can use the scheme and the records you will need to keep.

The Coronavirus Statutory Sick Pay Rebate Scheme will repay employers the current rate of SSP that they pay to current or former employees for periods of sickness starting on or after 13 March 2020.

If you’re an employer who pays more than the current rate of SSP you can only claim the current rate amount.

The repayment will cover up to 2 weeks starting from the first day of sickness, if an employee is unable to work because they either:

Employees do not have to give you a doctor’s fit note for you to make a claim.

Who can use the scheme

You can use the scheme as an employer if:

  • you’re claiming for an employee who’s eligible for sick pay due to coronavirus
  • you’ve had a PAYE payroll scheme that was created and started on or before 28 February 2020
  • you’ve had fewer than 250 employees on 28 February 2020

Your claim amount should not be above the maximum €800,000 of state aid under the EU Commission temporary framework. This is when combined with other aid received under the framework. There is a lower maximum for agriculture at €100,000 and aquaculture and fisheries at €120,000.

The scheme covers all types of employment contracts, including:

  • full-time employees
  • part-time employees
  • employees on agency contracts
  • employees on flexible or zero-hour contracts

Connected companies and charities

Connected companies and charities can also use the scheme if their total combined number of PAYE employees are fewer than 250 on or before 28 February 2020.

Records you must keep

You must keep records of all the statutory sick payments that you want to claim from HMRC, including:

  • the reason why an employee could not work
  • details of each period when an employee could not work, including start and end dates
  • details of the SSP qualifying days when an employee could not work
  • National Insurance numbers of all employees who you have paid SSP to

You’ll have to keep these records for at least 3 years following your claim.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-back-statutory-sick-pay-paid-to-employees-due-to-coronavirus-covid-19

Can I get a holiday refund and what are my travel rights?

People have been advised against making any non-essential international travel, by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).

Only a fraction of regular flights are still running - and those who do travel risk being stranded abroad.

So what does this mean for any holidays planned for this year? Learn more about your travel rights and refunds.

What are my travel rights?

In general, insurers and airlines take their cue from official UK foreign travel advice.

If you go against it, you risk invalidating your insurance policy.

If you currently have to make an essential trip, some insurers will still maintain cover.

Your rights can also depend on your choice of airline and the small print of your insurance policy - so do read it carefully.

Can I get a holiday refund?

If your flight is cancelled, you are entitled to a full refund to the original form of payment within seven days.

However, many customers are reporting their airlines are offering a voucher for another flight instead of a refund.

And trade body Airlines UK told BBC News, in early April, vouchers were its preferred method of compensation in a "very grave" financial situation.

Budget airline Ryanair says customers who want a cash refund will receive it ''in due course'' as it is dealing with a much higher volume of requests than usual, with fewer staff.

If you are offered a voucher, or a free rebooking, you can accept or refuse it. But if the airline later folds, the voucher will probably become invalid.

And if you rebook but later decide against going on a flight that has not been cancelled, you will have lost your right to a refund and may not be covered by your travel insurance.

Meanwhile, the Association of British Travel Agents (Abta) told BBC News people whose package holidays had been cancelled because of the coronavirus pandemic "absolutely have the right to a refund".

"Abta's expectation is that its members will provide a refund as soon as possible," it said

But because so many holidays had been affected, travel agents and tour operators would need more than the legal requirement of 14 days to process requests.

What about other costs?

Even when travel tickets are refunded, there can be other costs, such as hotel rooms and car hire, which travel insurance may cover.

"People should keep all their travel invoices and receipts to help the claims process go smoothly," Laura Dawson, of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), says.

But you might find insurers take a different view on when you can put in a claim.

Some will look at it within 28 days of your planned departure.

But others will ask you to wait until 48 hours before, just in case the FCO advice changes.

Should I book a summer holiday?

Booking summer travel probably isn't a good idea, because the current lockdown does not permit holidaying within the UK or overseas.

But as the outlook for the next few months is highly uncertain and many are struggling to obtain refunds on their existing bookings, it may be sound advice.

Many travel providers are offering additional protection and free cancellation for new bookings.

But insurers are telling customers they should ask their holiday provider or airline for existing refunds or rebookings first.

Have insurance companies changed cover?

Some insurers have limited or changed cover for claims relating to Covid-19.

The key is "disruption cover", which should pay out for costs such as unused hotel bookings or car hire.

And many policies - even if you have a valid annual travel insurance policy - no longer have this as standard.

Also, many insurers, including the Post Office, have simply suspended travel insurance sales completely.

The Association of British Insurers said travel insurance was for unforeseen circumstances and coronavirus no longer met that criteria.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51615412

A visual guide to the economic impact

The coronavirus has infected people in 185 countries and has left businesses around the world counting the costs. These maps and charts show the economic impact of the virus so far on:

  • global shares
  • unemployment
  • oil prices
  • risk of recession
  • technology
  • travel sector

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-51706225


24/04/2020

Hallidays client, Didsbury Gin and Dragons Den winner makes hand-sanitiser for GMP

Hallidays client Didsbury Gin, Manchester halted their production so it could make hand-sanitiser for police officers to help them stay healthy during the coronavirus crisis by converting their supplies of alcohol. Over the last 3 weeks they have made the equivalent of over 2 million bottles. This is being supplied to the Police, NHS, Fire and further Health and Social Care Services for the foreseeable future.

The local brand was created by two Manchester entrepreneurs, and they say they are proud to be supporting a pillar of the Mancunian community during these uncertain times. 

Many firms are adapting and switching their production during these challenging times. The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is looking for organisations who can support in the supply of ventilators and ventilator components across the United Kingdom as part of the Government's response to COVID-19.

“Recently during these difficult times we have diversified our business by switching production to make hand sanitiser for the NHS, Fire, Police and other Health and Social Care services. We are extremely proud to be assisting where we can at this period of uncertainty”. Again Hallidays have been in regular contact informing us of what support is available during this time which has helped us”. Said Liam Manton.

Didsbury Gin, a craft gin business grew from a home experiment in 2017, to winning investment of £75,000 from Jenny Campbell on Dragons' Den and securing huge orders with the likes of Harvey Nichols, Selfridges and Wetherspoons and have gone on to work with Aldi, Co-Op and many more bar/restaurant chains across the UK.

Hallidays (Stockport), Business Growth Hub and input from Hallidays Corporate Finance Team advised Didsbury Gin on their seed investment round and supported them throughout the deal to completion. Hallidays Corporate Finance team offer support by advising on acquisitions, growth funding, exit planning and deal structure.

“Over the last couple of years our business has transformed year on year and we are continuing to grow at a significant rate. Over this time we have built up an amazing team around us and Hallidays are a part of that team”. They have been with us since the start and have supported us as we have grown.” Said Liam Manton.

The hand sanitiser isn't the only supportive gesture from the gin producers.

Didsbury Gin are also providing a 25% discount across their products with free delivery for all NHS staff, police and fire services.

To claim an exclusive code, please email amy@didsburygin.com with your NHS or staff ID.

https://www.hallidays.co.uk/news/hallidays-news/archive/article/2020/April/hallidays-client-didsbury-gin-and-dragons-den-winner-makes-hand-sanitiser-for-gmp

COVID-19: savers - stay calm and don't rush financial decisions

Regulators are urging savers to keep calm and not rush to make any decisions about their pension in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA), supported by the Money and Pensions Service (MaPS), say fears over the impact of the pandemic on markets and personal finances may make savers more vulnerable to scams or making a decision that could damage their long-term interests.

They are urging savers to take their time and visit the Pensions Advisory Service website for free plain English pensions guidance before making any decisions about their retirement savings. And to go to the ScamSmart website to learn how to protect themselves from pensions scams. This includes people already retired who are thinking again about their options.

The coronavirus outbreak has impacted on all kinds of companies, including those listed on the stock market. As a result, markets have been volatile and are likely to remain so for a while. This can have an impact on pensions, leading to additional worry for savers. It can lead to an increase in scams, as unscrupulous people try to take advantage of the situation.

Throughout this period, TPR, the FCA, MaPS and government departments will be working together to tackle any additional risks arising from the current uncertainty.

Charlotte Jackson, Head of Pensions Operations and Consumer Protection at MaPS said: “This is a very worrying time for people. For those on the point of retiring, the impact of the virus on the financial markets and therefore on pension savings has been damaging. If you are in a workplace pension, investments are designed to deliver over the long term with measures in place to reduce the risks faced by investors as they approach retirement.

“However, if you have chosen to invest your retirement savings yourself or were looking to retire soon then you may find yourself having to accept a lower income or retiring later. The key thing is to take as much time as you can and try not to panic.

“Most importantly, before taking any major decisions relating to your pension take the time to get independent guidance or advice. You can call the Pension Advisory Service on 0800 011 3797 or make an appointment with Pension Wise by going online.”

Mark Steward, FCA’s Executive Director of Enforcement and Market Oversight said: “Fraudsters will exploit the coronavirus to prey on anxiety and fear of savers and investors, especially those who may be vulnerable. That’s why we’re urging anyone who is thinking about transferring their pension to check who they are dealing with and only use firms authorised by the FCA.

“Reject all unexpected and unsolicited offers; get to know the warning signs of scams, like high rates of return which sound too good to be true, so-called special offers or pressure to make a quick decision and check our tips and advice on our ScamSmart website.”

Charles Counsell TPR’s Chief Executive said: “Pensions remain a safe long-term investment for your retirement and it’s important to avoid hasty decisions about cash that’s taken a lifetime to build.

“We urge you not to transfer your pension into another arrangement now and regret the decision later. If you’re worried about your pension savings, take the time to understand what options you have available. There is no need to rush.

“For those who have a final salary pension, staying in your existing scheme is still likely to be the best long-term arrangement. All savers should be very cautious about making changes at this time.

“More than ever before, you should visit The Pensions Advisory Service website for impartial guidance before making any decision about your retirement or get financial advice from a Financial Conduct Authority-authorised financial adviser.”

For defined benefit pensions savers, TPR is working with trustees to manage schemes’ risks to do all it can to make sure your benefits are protected.

Support available

We all urge savers worried about their retirement savings to do four things:

  1. Visit the Pensions Advisory Service website for guidance on how COVID-19 may have impacted your pensions.
  2. If you are aged 55 or over and considering drawing your pension, you can book a Pension Wise guidance session to fully understand your options.
  3. Use a financial adviser to help you make the best decision for your own personal circumstances. Make sure the firm you are dealing with is FCA-authorised, and they are permitted to provide pension advice. You can check the firm you are dealing with is authorised by visiting the FCA Register.
  4. Learn how to protect yourself from pensions scams by visiting the ScamSmart website.

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/media-hub/press-releases/2020-press-releases/covid-19-savers-stay-calm-and-dont-rush-financial-decisions

If you would like support with your pensions or savings, please contact Hallidays Wealth Management on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Coronavirus grant funding: local authority payments to small and medium businesses

This spreadsheet shows the total amount of money that each local authority in England has:

  • received from central government
  • distributed to SMEs to date

This covers 2 coronavirus grant schemes:

  • Small Business Grants Fund (SBGF) scheme
  • Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund (RHLGF)

Find out if your business is eligible to receive this or other funding

You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants. Use the business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.

How HMRC works out total income and trading profits for the Self-employment Income Support Scheme

HMRC will assess your eligibility for the grant based on your total income and trading profits. This guide details how we do this.

You can use this guide to find out if you’re eligible and how much you may get.

Trading profits

HMRC will use the figures on your tax returns for your total trading income (turnover), then deduct any allowable business expenses and capital expenditure.

Allowable expenses include:

It also includes:

  • any business expenses deducted through the trading allowance
  • capital allowances, used to buy assets used in your business
  • qualifying care relief
  • flat rate expenses

We will not deduct from your trading profits:

  • any losses carried forward from previous years
  • your personal allowance

Example 1

If your total trading income (turnover) in each of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018 and 2018 to 2019 was £20,000, and you claimed the £1,000 trading allowance each year.

This is worked out as:

  1. £20,000 deduct the trading allowance of £1,000 = £19,000
  2. Multiply £19,000 by 3 = £57,000
  3. Divide £57,000 by 3 = £19,000

Your average trading profit would be £19,000.

If you have more than one trade in the same tax year

We will add together all profits and losses for all these trades to work out your trading profit.

Example 2

If you only traded in the tax year 2018 to 2019, and made a £60,000 profit for your first trade, and then a £20,000 loss for your second trade, your trading profit for that year would be:

Trade 1 £60,000 profit deduct trade 2 £20,000 loss = £40,000

If you traded for more than one year

To work out your average trading profit we will add together all profits and losses for all tax years you’ve had continuous trade.

Example 3

If you made:

  • £60,000 profit in tax year 2016 to 2017
  • £60,000 profit in tax year 2017 to 2018
  • £30,000 loss in tax year 2018 to 2019
  1. Add £60,000 and £60,000 then deduct £30,000 loss = £90,000
  2. Then divide £90,000 by 3

Your average trading profit for the 3 tax years would be £30,000.

Example 4

If you did not trade in tax year 2016 to 2017 but made:

  • £25,000 of profit in tax year 2017 to 2018
  • £45,000 of profit in tax year 2018 to 2019
  1. Add £25,000 and £45,000 = £70,000
  2. Then divide £70,000 by 2

Your average trading profit for the 2 tax years would be £35,000.

Total income

Your total income is the total of all your:

  • income from earnings
  • trading profits
  • property income
  • dividends
  • savings income
  • pension income
  • miscellaneous income (including social security income)

Eligibility

Your trading profits must be no more than £50,000 and more than half of your total income for either:

  • the tax year 2018 to 2019
  • the average of the tax years 2016 to 2017, 2017 to 2018, and 2018 to 2019

Example 5

2016 to 2017

2017 to 2018

2018 to 2019

Average for the 3 tax years

Trading profit

£50,000

£50,000

-£10,000

£30,000

Pension income

£15,000

£15,000

£15,000

£15,000

Total income

£65,000

£65,000

£5,000

£45,000

Trading profit are more than half of your total income

Yes

Yes

No

Yes

So even if you made a loss in the tax year 2018 to 2019, you would still be eligible for the grant because your average trading profit for the 3 tax years:

  • is £30,000 – which is less than £50,000
  • is more than half of your total income of £45,000

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/how-hmrc-works-out-total-income-and-trading-profits-for-the-self-employment-income-support-scheme

Hallidays support client stranded on cruise ship!

Hallidays client, Simon, a pub owner was stranded on a Cruise ship whilst sailing from Dubai to Cape Town with his wife when the lockdown was announced. He had very limited access to mobile data so his only real method of communication was via his emails which he said kept him sane as he felt so isolated. Simon was overwhelmed by the support he received from Hallidays, receiving daily live blog updates on critical business support and regular communications with his General Manager, Lynne back in the UK with.

Rather than ask for a reduction in his fees, he praised Hallidays for their ongoing work and extra support which helped with his rising stress levels when stranded for 16 days! The Crown, Hawk Green had to close whilst he was still at sea and it was through Hallidays that he first heard the word 'furlough'.

"I just wanted to put on record my appreciation to you and ALL the team at Hallidays for everything you are doing to assist myself and Claire at this really difficult trading time. I know you are all working flat out and going the extra mile for your clients please pass on my thanks to all the people in your team. Once again you are doing a great job…THANKS. Keep well." Simon Hood, The Crown, Hawk Green

Lynne his General Manager whom deals with Hallidays on a daily basis and also sings Hallidays praises wants to thank all their customers for their support and looks forward to sharing a drink with them all again soon!

https://www.hallidays.co.uk/news/hallidays-news

Head Teachers’ Leader says 1 June is earliest realistic school opening

The earliest "realistic" point at which schools in England could start re-opening would be 1 June, head teachers' leader Geoff Barton has said.

"We cannot see any realistic way that schools could be re-opened to more pupils before the second half of the summer term," said the ASCL leader.

And "planning would need to begin very soon" in order to meet a 1 June target, with staged returns for social distancing.

Schools closed their doors to all except vulnerable children and those of key workers over a month ago.

At the weekend, Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said no date was set for returning to school, quashing speculation about an imminent return.

The education secretary said if and when five thresholds in the fight against coronavirus were reached, a date could be set for schools to reopen:

  • the NHS's ability to cope is fully protected
  • the daily death rate is dropping
  • infection rates are falling to manageable levels
  • there are sufficient supplies of testing and protective equipment
  • there is no risk of a "second peak" of infections

It's a safety-first approach, with school leaders backing the reliance on medical advice. Once those requirements have been met, a date could be set for schools to re-open.

But it would not be immediate, with schools expecting a further "lead in" time, possibly of weeks, to prepare for a complicated, staged return that allows them to maintain social distancing. Parents would also have to be persuaded it was safe.

With such a time frame, starting this half term becomes very unlikely. If opening after half term, it would mean somewhere in the seven weeks between 1 June and the term ending in mid-July.

Mr Barton said the priority should be Years 10 and 12, who are part-way through GCSEs and A-levels, and Year 6, where children are about to move to secondary school. "What is crucial is that schools are able to re-open in a manner which inspires confidence among staff, pupils and parents - and that it is as safe as possible," said Mr Barton.

Other countries might provide evidence of how a return might work. In France, primary-school pupils will start to go back, in classes of no more than 15, from 11 May. And in the Netherlands, they will go back, on a part-time basis, on the same date, with secondary pupils returning from 1 June.

Read more https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-52377277.


23/04/2020

Cocooning a business

The purpose of this guidance is to give an overview of what, why and how a business might be cocooned (or mothballed) in response to the change in trading environment arising from Covid-19.

What is Cocooning?

  • Cocooning, or mothballing, is a temporary suspension of a business and can be the result of sales reducing to zero (or nearly zero)
  • All cash outflows where possible are stopped or reduced and the business is left in a state which it can emerge from once the prevailing business conditions improve

Why would you do it?

If there is a temporary change in business environment like we are seeing from Covid-19 then business owners have the following decision:

  • Continue trading (and possibly benefitting) (e.g. delivery companies)
  • Move trading online (e.g. universities, schools)
  • Pivot the business (e.g. restaurants doing take away)
  • Repurpose to produce in-demand goods (e.g. BrewDog hand sanitiser)
  • Cocoon the business temporarily
  • Solvent/Insolvent liquidation

As Covid-19 has reduced revenue for many businesses to zero (or close to zero) it may be pragmatic to cocoon the business until conditions improve.

The decision to cocoon is likely to be difficult and the following are some thoughts to help business owners make the decision.

  • Customers and suppliers - if the business is a vital link in a supply chain then there may be an opportunity to agree with customers / suppliers for relaxed terms to continue trading.
  • Expected revenues – If the expected revenues for the business in the next 3 or 6 months are zero or close to zero it might make sense to cocoon the business. However, if there are some revenues still being generated but these are below normal levels then it may be useful to put some forecasts together (see next point).
  • Short Term Financial forecasts – Preparing two cashflow forecasts will help set out the numbers (see the ‘Simple Cash Flow Forecast’ in the Resource Centre). If this is the first time the business has prepared a cash forecast a good place to start would be the business bank statements to find the payments that the business typically makes. The first forecast is assuming the business stays open, revenue is lower than normal (because of Covid-19) and some costs are reduced whilst trade continues. The second forecast shows the cash impact of cocooning the business with no trading and as many costs reduced as possible (more detail on this below). Comparing these two forecasts will show whether it is more costly to keep the business open on lower revenues or to cocoon the business.
  • Longer Term Financial Forecasts – Despite the uncertainty it is helpful to have a business plan which shows the best estimate of how the business will recover. If the businesses cocoons itself then having a plan about what happens when the business restarts, how long it takes to generate cash again and how it can pay back its creditors will help when speaking with creditors, banks, HMRC etc.
  • Other considerations should also be taken into account such as what impact this may have on your customers & suppliers in the long term, how quickly the business can return to operation after cocooning and how long this interruption is likely to go on for.

It is recommended that business owners take advice when considering their options and we are well placed to help.

Principles to follow when Cocooning

Prioritise - Focus attention on the biggest cost items and those critical to the future of the business. These are the ones which need attention first and will have the biggest impact (e.g. payroll, rent). Once these are managed attention can be turned to the smaller / less critical costs. 

Communicate– Ensure that relevant stakeholders are being informed of what is going on. Remember to be honest and upfront (even if delivering bad news) as this will help maintain relations with stakeholders.

Negotiate - These are unprecedented times and every business and person will have been impacted by Covid-19 in some way. This means there are no agreed solutions and the opportunity to negotiate and find novel ways of dealing with problems is likely.

Think long term - Just as important as how you cocoon the business in the first place is thinking about how you unwind what you do in the future. Simply stopping paying creditors is likely to mean there will be a stack of overdue demands when returning the business to operation in the future. The solution is communicating and trying to find solutions that work for both parties such as incentives, payment in kind etc.

How do you do it – maximizing cash inflows?

When cocooning a business, all potential sources of cash should be pursued. This includes:

  • Collecting any outstanding trade debtors.
  • Considering whether liquidating stock is appropriate. Having the cash now may be a benefit but could impact the speed and cost of re-starting the business in the future.
  • Applying for available grants:
    • Small business grant funding of £10k for all business in receipt of small business rate relief or rural rate relief
    • Grant funding of £25,000 for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses with property with a rateable value between £15,000 and £51,000
    • See ‘Business Rates’ document in resource center
  • Review insurance policies to see if there is a claim that can be made against pandemics, government ordered closures. Policies differ significantly between insurers for what they cover so it is recommended to check.
  • It is possible the business has material customer contracts in place which may not be fulfilled as a result of Covid-19. In this instance, the customers should be contacted to explain the situation re Covid-19 / cocooning. Some contracts may be covered by a Force Majeure clause which gives relief from fulfilling contractual obligations.

How do you do it – minimising cash outflows?

Prepare a breakdown of the costs in the business so all expense lines can be seen. Bank statements are a good place to start. Some of these are likely to be variable costs which have already stopped, whereas some are fixed (e.g. rent). All of these costs need to be considered when cocooning as the target is to minimize or stop all costs.

The process should start with the largest and most business critical expenses such as payroll and rent and then work down to the less essential and smaller items.

If expenses are non-essential and the supplier is unlikely to take enforcement action then the simplest approach would be to stop making payments and explain your position with them.

It is worth considering directors duties when making this decision and, if the business is near insolvency, then Director’s duties towards the creditors take priority. More details below on this.

Payroll

  • When cocooning the business it is likely that all staff will be furloughed through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). The conditions of the CJRS means the employees cannot do any work for the business. Details of the CJRS and FAQs can be found in the resource center.
  • Key facts of the CJRS are:
    • Minimum period of 3 weeks
    • Covers 80% of salary (plus NI + minimum pension)
    • 3 months from 1 March 2020 (currently)
    • First payment in April so potential cash requirement of business to cover salaries until refund received
    • Cash squeeze may be covered through commercial banks offering overdrafts and agreement to defer salaries with staff
  • Whilst using the CJRS seems the most appropriate for cocooning the business it may also be worth considering other options including:
    • If some staff need to be kept on could their salary be reduced or deferred in return for more holidays, a bonus once operating starts again etc.
    • Redundancy – however this is likely to be expensive when staff can be put on CJRS. Also need to consider recruitment (time and costs) when business starts running again.

Rent

  • Key steps
    • Stop rent payments being made
    • Communicate with your landlord
    • Take advantage of the Government creditor moratorium (see below)
  • The advice is to speak to your landlord early and explain the situation. If the business was a good tenant before the crisis and as a result of Covid-19 has decided to cocoon then the landlord should be willing to reach a solution which works for both parties.
  • The business doesn’t want to come back to rent demands once it restarts trading so agreeing a reduction / payment over time once trading restarts might work best.
  • There have been a number of examples where landlords have agreed rent holidays or deferrals and there are many other options to discuss including rent reductions, changing in terms, part occupancy and turnover based rents.
  • The Government imposed moratorium covers rent payments but not service charge or other agreed leasehold costs which remain payable. Again, speak to the relevant parties and come to an agreement.

Rates

  • Key Steps
    • Stop payments being made
    • Take advantage of the Government scheme if possible
    • Speak to council to inform them of your situation and agree a payment deferral
  • Take advantage of the Government scheme
  • Like Time to Pay with HMRC, Councils have in the past agreed to paying rates bills in installments to spread the costs.
  • The advice is to speak to the council early, inform them of your intention and come to an agreement which works for both parties.

Tax / HMRC

  • VAT
    • Key Points
      • Cancel direct debit and don’t pay VAT for this quarter
    • Take advantage of the VAT payment deferral for the next quarter
    • The government has allowed businesses to defer VAT payments between 20 March and 30 June 2020 meaning any quarterly VAT payments which are due to be made in that period (or all of the monthly VAT payments if the business pays on monthly) can be deferred
    • To receive this the VAT return a business needs to:
      • Submit the VAT return in time
      • Cancel the direct debit to HMRC
      • But – the business does not need to inform HMRC that they are deferring payment
    • However, if the business receives a VAT refund these are still being paid so VAT returns should be submitted as soon as possible.
  • Time To Pay (for all tax due)
    • Key Points
      • Speak to HMRC on 0800 024 1222 to agree a deferral of any tax due
    • HMRC can use their discretion to allow you to pay any existing tax bill over a period (could be Corporation Tax, VAT, PAYE).
    • It is suggested to speak to HMRC shortly (one or two weeks) before tax is due to agree a Time To Pay (TPP) arrangement and HMRC have set up a dedicated helpline to call (0800 024 1222).
    • HMRC will want to learn more about the situation, understand the reasoning for using TTP and how you will repay the tax in the future
    • Arrangements to date have included installment payments, suspending debt collection or stopping penalties and interest if difficulty to pay as a result of Covid-19.
    • TTP only covers a specific tax liability and expects that all future tax liabilities are paid as they fall due - so if another tax liability is approaching you will need to engage HMRC again.

Existing Loans

  • Key Points
    • Speak to lender and agree new terms
  • Speak to the lender and negotiate an agreement. Options could include:
    • Capital repayment holidays
    • Covenant waivers
    • Accrued interest
    • Extending the term

Hire / Leasing

  • Key Points
    • Stop payment
    • Communicate with lessor
  • Apply for a postponement of payments for any hire purchase or leases.
  • For company cars, the benefit in kind charge (for employee and employer) can be reduced during lockdown by making the car ‘unavailable’ (e.g. by handing the keys back to the employer).

Other creditors

  • Key Points
    • Stop payments
    • Communicate with creditors
  • Need to be reviewed on a case by case basis.
  • Retainers / recruitment / advertising / marketing / subscriptions / security / facilities management / maintenance / capex can all be stopped.

Other thoughts

Financing options

There are a number of potential financing options available to a business which can be considered. However, if a business is cocooned then the business owner / director should take advice before proceeding:

  • The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme offering loans of up to £5 million for SMEs through the British Business Bank – see resource center for more details. This may not be relevant for businesses if the directors can’t be confident that the business will be able to repay this in the future.
  • High street banks are offering additional support for small businesses

Other thoughts / considerations which may be relevant

  • Self-employment Income Support Scheme
    • Relevant for self-employed.
  • Self-assessment payment deferrals
    • Payment due on 31 July 2020 now deferred until 31 Jan 2021.
  • Universal Credit
    • If staff are receiving Universal Credit and their income changes as a result of being furloughed, then UC payments may change
    • See detailed universal credit guide in the resource center.
  • Tax refund
    • Change of accounting period to accelerate trading losses (assuming the business made a loss in the most recent period) so a corporation tax refund can be made.
  • Working from home allowance
    • People who have to work from home may be able to claim back additional household costs such as utilities from the government Home working costs which can be claimed back.

Do you need to declare your company (ltd) dormant?

No. Companies are only declared dormant if they don’t have any material transactions during the entire financial year.

Should I be worried about wrongful trading?

Wrongful trading is where the directors of a company continue to trade where there is no reasonable prospect of being able to pay the creditors which are being incurred.

In this instance the directors can become personally liable for creditors if they are found to be wrongfully trading. This is something which directors should consider given the changing trading environment.

However, on 28th March there was a relaxation in the wrongful trading regime meaning that from 1st March 2020 for 3 months the wrongful trading provisions are suspended meaning that where a business is nearing insolvency, directors can continue to trade and incur liabilities with no threat of personal liabilities.

Having said that, there are still a number of regulations which directors need to be aware of, not least in the Companies Act 2006 where the directors should act in the interest of the creditors where there is a heightened risk of insolvency.

To protect the directors they should prepare business plans and forecasts (outlined earlier), document decisions made at board meetings and document that the decision to continue trading was reviewed regularly.

Contact us if you would like to discuss how your business survives the Pandemic and what actions you need to take. We are here to support you. 

Economic Indicators

IBISWorld has further downgraded Real GDP growth for FY2020. Although it is expected that GDP will make a strong recovery across the year, GDP is falling faster rate than the financial crisis.

The business rates holiday will result in £14bn reduction in tax receipts. This will result in increases in government borrowing and an increase to long-term public sector net debt.

Although there is no government data yet for unemployment in March/April 2020, IBISWorld predicts that unemployment rates could rise to as high as 10% in a worst-case scenario. Recovery however is expected to be fast barring any exogeneous shocks.

Manufacturing

The impact of Coronavirus on manufacturing is somewhat mixed, with some sectors of manufacturing suffering heavily and others performing well, dependent upon key factors such as supply chain.

Manufacturing PMI has seen the sharpest fall in output since July 2012.

Some manufacturers are now benefitting from repurposing manufacturing to assist the NHS with production of medical equipment.

Transportation & Storage

Use of transport is down 60% across all transport types since February with tube passenger numbers falling as much as 90%.

Most affected industries: Urban Passenger Rail Operations
Intercity Passenger Rail Transport
Bus & Tramway Operations

The government has provided some support for the industry in the form of temporary nationalisation of railways and a £400m bailout for bus services.

Real Estate Activities

Residential
Social distancing and fears surrounding COVID-19 have limited demand. BoE rate changes may mean that many mortgages will be reevaluated. Mortgage repossessions generally halted by the FCA. Residential house prices were stagnant for March. IBISWorld expects house prices to decline in 2020.

Commercial
Demand for warehouse space has spiked since the beginning of the pandemic. This has been driven mainly by supermarkets, online retailers and pharmaceutical third party logistic firms. REITs face a fall in real estate capital values as social distancing has been affecting retail sales and therefor retail property rental values. Office space has been less affected but it is not immune. Working from home has driven integration of technology into businesses which may reduce the demand for office space.

Pension contributions and salary sacrifice

The existence of the grant available under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme does not change an employer’s usual pension contribution payment obligations or processes.

When calculating the pension contribution due for a furloughed worker who has agreed a salary sacrifice arrangement for pension contributions, any contractual obligations you have entered into and the obligation in the pension scheme rules continue to apply as normal.

However, as all of the grant claimed must be paid to a furloughed worker in the form of money this may mean that, where a salary sacrifice arrangement is in place for pensions, an employer will need to amend their payroll processes to calculate the pension contribution to be paid to the pension scheme under the pension scheme rules. We explain this in more detail below.

A salary sacrifice arrangement is a contractual agreement between the staff member and their employer, where the worker agrees to give up some of their salary in return for a benefit such as a pension contribution by the employer. It is usually set up by changing the terms of the worker’s contract of employment by agreement.

The operation of a salary sacrifice arrangement for pension contributions is separate from the automatic enrolment provisions and pension contribution obligations set out in a pension scheme’s rules or governing documentation. When salary sacrifice is operated then usually, under the pension scheme rules, the obligation on the employer is to pay the total contribution, however it is calculated. In most cases, the scheme rules or governing documentation will define pensionable pay as the notional pre-sacrifice pay. The amount the member of staff sacrifices is paid across to the pension scheme as part of the overall employer contribution. There is no obligation under the pension scheme rules or governing documentation for the member of staff to contribute. See example 1 below as an illustration:

Example 1

The pension scheme rules require a contribution of 10% from the employer on the notional pre-sacrifice pay. Under the contract of employment, the worker has agreed to reduce their contractual salary to £1,781.25 a month in return for a pension contribution of £93.75 to be paid over to the pension scheme as part of the employer contribution.

In February 2020 the employer pension contribution required under the pension scheme rules is £187.50 (10% of the notional pre-sacrifice pay of £1,875). The employer is required to pay their employer pension contribution of £187.50 over to the pension scheme by the agreed due date.

Contractually, under the salary sacrifice arrangement the worker has agreed to sacrifice £93.75 to be paid over to the pension scheme as part of the employer’s total pension contribution of £187.50.

The amount the individual has agreed to sacrifice as a pension contribution may appear on your payroll as an employee pension contribution. For example, for the employer in example 1 above, their payroll may show an employee pension contribution of £93.75 and an employer pension contribution of £93.75. However, it is important to remember that the obligation in the pension scheme rules is for the employer to pay the total contribution, in this case £187.50, and under the pension scheme rules there is no requirement on the individual to pay a pension contribution.

The government’s guidance on the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme sets out that when calculating 80% of a furloughed worker’s salary or wage, the reference salary or wage to use is the amount after the salary has been sacrificed. All of the grant received from government to cover the furloughed worker’s pay must be paid to them in the form of money. The pay during the furlough period should be treated as the post-sacrifice pay so that no further sacrifice is made on that amount.

It is important to note that this is just for the purposes of making a claim for a grant from government and what that grant can be used for. Any contractual obligations you have entered into as part of the salary sacrifice arrangements and the obligation in the pension scheme rules continue to apply as normal, so the first step for an employer is to consider their contractual arrangements.

If, as a result of your contractual arrangements, you cannot reduce pay then you will continue to pay your furloughed workers their full pay and calculate pension contributions and the salary sacrifice element as usual on this pay. If this is the case, you can only claim a grant under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to cover the lower of 80% of your furloughed workers pay or £2,500 a month plus the associated employer’s national insurance contribution costs and the employer’s pension contribution up to the level of the AE statutory minimum employer contribution.

If you have agreed a reduction in pay with your furloughed worker you may need to make some changes to your payroll processes. Please contact your payroll provider for help and options for how to set up your payroll to assist with this processing. The changes include:

  • Usually you know your worker’s notional pre-sacrifice pay, and the pension contributions due under the pension scheme rules or governing documentation are calculated by your payroll system based on this amount. In these circumstances you will know the post sacrifice furlough pay. You will need to work out the notional pre-sacrifice pay in a pay period based on treating the furlough pay as your worker’s post-sacrifice amount. You can then calculate the total employer pension contribution as normal. In examples 2,3 and 4 that follow, you can find out how to calculate the notional pre-sacrifice pay.
  • You cannot deduct the amount your furloughed worker would normally sacrifice in their wage for pension contribution from the furlough pay, as this will mean that the amount you have claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme will not have all been paid as money. This means that you will pay the total contribution due under the pension scheme. You can claim as part of the grant the AE statutory minimum employer contribution on the pay included in the grant.
  • If your contractual arrangements with your furloughed worker specify that a set amount will be sacrificed and paid to the pension scheme each pay period, (eg £100) you will continue to pay this amount across as part of the employer contribution. This applies even if this amount is greater than the amount due under the pension scheme rules or governing documentation (see example 5 below).

Example 2 illustrates these changes using a monthly salaried furloughed worker. They have agreed to sacrifice a fixed amount of salary each month as a pension contribution to be paid as part of the overall employer pension contribution.

Please note examples 2 to 5 are to illustrate the calculation of pension contributions for a furloughed worker with a salary sacrifice arrangement for pensions. The calculations of the reference wage and the grant of 3% of qualifying earnings included in these examples are for illustration purposes only. See guidance from Government on how to calculate the reference wage and how to calculate the grant.

Example 2

The pension scheme rules require a contribution of 10% from the employer on the notional pre-sacrifice pay. Under the contract of employment, the worker has agreed to sacrifice £100 of pay as a pension contribution to be paid across to the pension scheme as part of the overall employer’s pension contribution. Their contractual salary is £22,800 plus a contribution of £1,200 to be paid over to the pension scheme. This is equivalent to a monthly salary of £1900 and a monthly sacrificed amount of £100.

In February 2020 their contractual wage post sacrifice was £1,900.

The amount of salary that can be claimed under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme is 80% of £1,900.00 = £1,520.00. The employer has chosen, after reviewing their contractual arrangements, to pay the furloughed worker £1,520.00 a month during the furlough period.

To calculate the pension contribution on this salary:

The furloughed worker’s pay of £1,520 is to be treated as their post sacrifice pay - ie no further salary sacrifice amount can reduce the pay further.

The notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay based on treating £1,520 as the post sacrifice pay is £1,600. We have used a formula of Furlough Pay / (100% – Sacrifice as a % of pay).

In this case this is £1,520 / (100% – 5%) = £1,600.

The pension scheme rules require a total contribution from the employer of 10% of this notional pre-sacrifice pay. Therefore, the employer contribution to be paid under the pension scheme rules is £160 a month during the furlough period (this includes the £100 required under the salary sacrifice arrangement to be paid across as part of the overall employer pension contribution).

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer may claim a grant to cover the AE statutory minimum employer contribution on the furlough pay of £1,520.00. The employer may claim £30.24 (3% of (£1,520.00 - £512 (the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2019/2020)) for March and £30.00 for each month in 2020/21 (3% of (£1,520.00 - £520 (the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2020/2021)) during the furlough period.

In some cases, where you have agreed a reduction in pay with your furloughed worker the contractual arrangement for salary sacrifice may specify a variable amount (see example 3 below).

Example 3

The pension scheme requires a total contribution from the employer of 8% of the notional pre-sacrifice qualifying earnings. Separately, the furloughed worker has agreed to sacrifice 5% of their qualifying earnings as a pension contribution to be paid as part of the overall employer pension contribution. Their pre-sacrifice salary is £24,000 a year or £2,000 a month.

In February 2020 the amount they sacrificed as pension contribution was £74.40 (5% of (£2,000 minus the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2019/2020 of £512).

As a result, their contractual wage at 28 February 2020 was £1,925.60 a month.

The amount of salary that can be claimed under the grant is 80% of £1925.60 = £1,540.48. The employer has chosen, after reviewing their contractual arrangements, to pay the furloughed worker £1,540.48 a month during the furlough period.

To calculate the pension contribution on this salary:

The furloughed worker’s pay of £1,540.48 is to be treated as their post sacrifice pay - ie no further salary sacrifice amount can reduce the pay further.

The notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay based on treating £1,540.48 as post sacrifice pay in March 2020 is £1,594.61. We have used a formula of (Furlough Pay – ((sacrifice as percentage of pay) x Lower level of qualifying earnings)) / (100% – Sacrifice as a % of pay). In this case this is £1,540.48 – (5% x £512 the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2019/20)) / (100% – 5%) = £1,594.61.

The pension scheme rules require a total contribution from the employer of 8% of qualifying earnings based on the notional pre-sacrifice pay.

Therefore, in March the employer contribution to be paid under the pension scheme rules is £86.61 (8% of (£1,594.61 - £512).

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer may claim a grant to cover the AE statutory minimum employer contribution on the furlough pay of £1,540.48. The employer may claim £30.86 (3% of (£1,540.48 - £512)).

In April, when the qualifying earnings threshold changed for the 2020/2021 tax year, the notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay based on a post sacrifice salary of £1,540.48 is £1,594.19. We have used a formula of (Furlough Pay – ((sacrifice as percentage of pay) x Lower level of qualifying earnings)) / (100% – Sacrifice as a % of pay). In this case this is £1,540.48 – (5% x £520 the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2020/21)) / (100% – 5%) = £1,594.19.

Therefore, in April 2020 the employer contribution to be paid under the pension scheme rules is £85.94 (8% of (£1,594.19 - £520).

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer may claim the AE statutory minimum employer contribution of £30.62 (3% of (£1,540.48 - £520)).

If the furloughed worker has agreed to sacrifice salary for other benefits in addition to a pension contribution you may need to include these when working out the notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay. Again, please contact your payroll provider for help with this calculation.

While examples 2 and 3 uses a monthly pay period, the principle is the same for different pay frequencies. For example, if your furloughed staff are paid weekly you will calculate the weekly pension contribution due under the pension scheme rules or governing documentation using the weekly notional pre-sacrifice pay.

The same principle also applies when the furlough pay has been capped at £2,500 (see example 4 below).

Example 4

The pension scheme requires a total contribution from the employer of 8% of the notional pre-sacrifice qualifying earnings. Separately, the furloughed worker has agreed to sacrifice 5% of their qualifying earnings as pension. Their pre-sacrifice salary is £42,000 a year or £3,500 a month. The amount they sacrifice as a pension contribution to be paid as part of the overall employer contribution is 5% of (£3,500 – the lower earnings threshold for 2019/20 of £512) = £149.40.

Their contractual wage at 28 February 2020 was £3,350.60 a month. 80% of this is £2,680.48. As this is above the cap of £2,500 a month the amount of salary that can be claimed under the grant is = £2,500. The employer chooses to pay the worker to the cap - ie £2,500 per month.

To calculate the pension contribution on this salary:

The furloughed worker’s pay of £2,500 is to be treated as their post-sacrifice pay - ie no further salary sacrifice amount can reduce the pay further.

The notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay based on this amount in March 2020 is £2,604.63. We have used a formula of (Furlough Pay – ((sacrifice as percentage of pay) x Lower level of qualifying earnings)) / (100% – Sacrifice as a % of pay). In this case this is £2,500 – (5% x £512 the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2019/20)) / (100% – 5%) = £2,604.63.

The pension scheme rules require a total contribution from the employer of 8% of qualifying earnings based on the notional pre-sacrifice pay.

Therefore, in March the employer contribution to be paid under the pension scheme rules is £167.41 (8% of (£2,604.63 - £512).

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer may claim a grant to cover the AE statutory minimum employer contribution on the furlough pay of £2,500. The employer may claim £59.64 (3% of (£2,500- £512)).

In April, when the qualifying earnings threshold changed for the 2020/2021 tax year, the notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay based on a post-sacrifice salary of £2,500 is £2,604.21. We have used a formula of (Furlough Pay – ((sacrifice as percentage of pay) x Lower level of qualifying earnings)) / (100% – Sacrifice as a % of pay). In this case this is £1,540.48 – (5/% x £520 the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2020/21)) / (100% – 5%) = £2,604.21.

Therefore, in April 2020 the employer contribution to be paid under the pension scheme rules is £166.74 (8% of (£2,604.21 - £520).

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer may claim the statutory minimum employer contribution of £59.40 (3% of (£2,500 - £520)).

If your contractual arrangements with your furloughed worker specify that a set amount will be sacrificed and paid to the pension scheme each pay period, (eg £100) you will continue to pay this amount across as part of the employer contribution (see example 5 below).

Example 5

The pension scheme rules require a contribution of 9% from the employer on the notional pre-sacrifice pay. Under the contract of employment, the worker has agreed to sacrifice 5% of pay as a pension contribution to be paid across to the pension scheme as part of the overall employer’s pension contribution. Their contractual salary is specified as £4,750 a month salary plus £250 a month to be paid over to the pension scheme as part of the overall employer pension contribution.

Their contractual wage at 28 February 2020 was £4,750 a month. 80% of this is £3,800. As this is above the cap of £2,500 a month the amount of salary that can be claimed under the grant is £2,500. The employer chooses to pay the worker to the cap - ie £2,500 per month.

To calculate the pension contribution on this salary:

The furloughed worker’s pay of £2,500 is to be treated as their post-sacrifice pay - ie no further salary sacrifice amount can reduce the pay further.

The notional pre-sacrifice pensionable pay based on this amount in March 2020 is £2,631.58. We have used a formula of Furlough Pay / (100% – Sacrifice as a % of pay). In this case this is £2,500 / (100% – 5%) = £2,631.58.

The pension scheme rules require a total contribution from the employer of 9% of this notional pre-sacrifice pay. The employer contribution under the pension scheme rules is £236.85 a month during the furlough period. However, the employer’s contractual arrangements specify that £250is to be paid across to the pension scheme as part of the contribution. Therefore, the total contribution to be paid across to the pension scheme by the employer is £250 a month during the furlough period.

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer may claim a grant to cover the AE statutory minimum employer contribution on the furlough pay of £2,500. The employer may claim £59.64 (3% of (£2,500- £512 (the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2019/2020)) for March and £59.40 (3% of (£2,500 - £520 the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2019/2020)) for each month in 2020/21 during the furlough period.

Amending salary sacrifice arrangements

HMRC has advised that COVID-19 counts as a life event, meaning that the terms of a salary sacrifice arrangement could be changed, if the relevant employment contract is updated accordingly with agreement. The pension scheme rules are separate from any salary sacrifice arrangement that is part of a furloughed worker’s contract of employment. As above, the obligation in these pension scheme rules is for the employer to pay the total contribution. If the salary sacrifice arrangement is ended these pension scheme rules will continue to apply to the employer, and no contribution will be due from the furloughed worker, unless the rules cater for workers who do not agree to salary sacrifice.

If an employer wishes to change the pension contribution payment obligation in the pension scheme rules or governing documentation to reduce the contribution that they pay, they will need to consider the same factors listed earlier in the section on employers wishing to reduce their pension contribution to the AE statutory minimum employer contribution. In addition, employers with at least 50 employees are legally required to consult if they wish to introduce member contributions for the first time, or increase existing contributions.

Any changes made to the salary sacrifice arrangement from 19 March 2020 do not affect the calculation of the reference wage. This calculation is done as at the furloughed worker’s last pay period prior to 19 March 2020.

DC certification

Some employers certify that they can treat their DC pension scheme as a qualifying scheme because it meets an alternative AE statutory minimum contribution requirement. In this case, the definition of pensionable pay in the scheme rules is likely to be different from qualifying earnings. Pensionable pay may just include basic pay and not overtime or bonuses and may require contributions to be deducted from the first penny earned.

As explained above, the provisions of the pension scheme rules or governing documentation are unaffected by the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. The employer calculates, deducts and pays the pension contribution due under the pension scheme as normal (see example 6 below).

Example 6

The employer has certified under set 1 and the scheme rules or governing documentation require a total contribution of 9% of pensionable pay and the employer contribution is 4% of pensionable pay. Pensionable pay is wage or salary only with fluctuating elements of pay such as overtime or bonuses excluded.

The employer has calculated the furlough pay to be £1,500 a month during the furlough period.

In April 2020 the employer runs payroll and calculates the pension contribution due on £1,500 in the normal way to give:

  • a member contribution to be deducted from salary of £75 (5% of £1,500)
  • an employer contribution of £60 (4% of £1,500)

Under the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme the employer is able to claim a grant of up to 3% of qualifying earnings of the furlough pay. In example 6 above the employer would be able to claim £29.40 (3% of (£1,500 - £520 (the lower qualifying earnings threshold for 2020/21)).

Where the employer only pays the furloughed worker the lower of 80% of their wage or £2,500 a month and this reduction in wages takes the worker below the lower qualifying earnings threshold, the employer will be unable to claim any pension contribution cost back. This is because 3% of qualifying earnings in this case will be zero as there are no qualifying earnings as the threshold has not been reached (see example 7) below.

Example 7

The employer has certified under set 1 and the scheme rules or governing documentation require a total contribution of 9% of pensionable pay and the employer contribution is 4% of pensionable pay. Pensionable pay is wage or salary only with fluctuating elements of pay such as overtime or bonuses excluded.

The employer has calculated the furlough pay to be £500 a month during the furlough period.

In April 2020 the employer runs payroll and calculates the pension contribution due on £500 in the normal way to give:

  • a member contribution to be deducted from salary of £25 (5% of £500)
  • an employer contribution of £20 (4% of £500)

In April 2020 the lower qualifying earnings threshold is £520, therefore there are no qualifying earnings in this period and so no grant reclaim.

Employers who are currently certifying may be able to change their scheme rules to match the AE statutory minimum employer contribution based on qualifying earnings. They can end the current certification period early under the certification rules. Where employers have a mixture of furloughed staff and staff who have not been furloughed it may mean that they need to recertify in respect of the staff that have not been furloughed, after carrying out the usual review at the end of the certification period as to whether the pension scheme met the requirements during the certification period.

However, as a change to calculate employer contributions on a qualifying earnings period is likely to mean a reduction in the employer contribution then they will need to consider the same list of factors as previously outlined in the section on reducing employer contributions to the AE statutory minimum employer contribution.

As before, you cannot legally reduce your contributions to below the statutory minimum.

If you need any support with salary sacrifice or pension contributions please contact Hallidays Payroll or Hallidays Wealth Management on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

https://www.thepensionsregulator.gov.uk/en/covid-19-coronavirus-what-you-need-to-consider/automatic-enrolment-and-pension-contributions-covid-19-guidance-for-employers/covid-19-technical-guidance-for-large-employers

Lenders kick-start mortgage deals

Some big lenders have begun reopening their doors to British borrowers, making it easier to get a home loan.

At the start of the coronavirus lockdown, several scrapped deals or only offered loans to those with large deposits.

But this week Nationwide, Halifax, Virgin and Santander all made it easier for people to qualify for a loan.

"Lenders are adapting and innovating," said broker Mark Harris of SPF Private Clients.

Nationwide resumed loans at 85% loan-to-value (LTV) on Wednesday, while Halifax raised its LTV level from 80% to 85%.

Meanwhile, this week Virgin Money began offering purchase mortgages again, as Santander increased its maximum loan size - from £300,000 to £500,000 - and cut fees on its residential mortgages.

The new restrictions

At the start of the lockdown, lenders were forced to reassess their deals in the light of the new restrictions.

For instance, Nationwide, the UK's biggest building society, stopped offering deals above 75% loan-to-value to new customers at the end of March to "focus on supporting existing mortgage members, while continuing to process ongoing applications".

"Lenders had to work out how they were going to continue trading while their mortgage processing centres were being scaled back and staff were working from home," explained Aaron Strutt, product director at Trinity Financial.

"As the general public is getting used to life under extended lockdown, so too are lenders," said Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at broker Private Finance.

Lenders returning this last week "is great news for the market and for borrowers who will have increased choice going forward," he added.

"It also means the post-lockdown recovery should be swifter when some semblance of normality returns."

According to SPF's chief executive Mark Harris, lenders have found ways to deal with some of the problems and "there is a willingness to lend".

"Problems have mostly centred around staff resources, handling the surge in mortgage payment holidays and those staff self-isolating who have children and no childcare," he said.

Drive-by valuations

Lenders have been changing the way they operate to cope with the lockdown and are now much more reliant on their IT systems, pointed out Mr Strutt.

One of the biggest problems under lockdown has been valuations, as properties can't be visited by lenders' staff to be inspected.

"Lenders are using system-generated valuations to get property purchases and re-mortgages agreed," he said.

These are known in the industry as "drive-by valuations".

Sorting out the problems and gaining confidence in the use of these valuations has encouraged lenders to reopen temporarily-closed doors.

"As the UK's second largest mortgage lender, it is right that we still play an active role in the market, while maintaining the levels of service expected of us, during what are unprecedented and evolving times," said Henry Jordan, director of mortgages at Nationwide.

"We are still getting calls from people asking if it is possible to get a mortgage," said Mr Strutt.

He said borrowers typically need a deposit of at least 10% to qualify and lenders will want to know if people's income has reduced as a result of the coronavirus. But that doesn't mean you will be turned down.

"There is a little more caution in the underwriting process, but even if a borrower is furloughed, the lender will often take their full income into account if it can be proven that the employer is topping up the salary," said Mr Harris.

He added: "NHS workers are being prioritised on re-mortgages to make sure they go through smoothly and lessen any potential stress."

Fixed rates continue to be at all-time lows, while the base rate is almost zero, so there continue to be plenty of good deals on offer, he pointed out.

"After three weeks of product availability falling, borrowers looking to purchase or re-mortgage will have an increased number of options open to them," said Mr Harris.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52390860

'Zoombombing' targeted with new version of app

Zoom has said it will release an improved version of its hugely popular video conferencing app this week.

It comes after issues with the company's data security and privacy measures have come under intense scrutiny.

The firm said Zoom 5.0 will include upgraded encryption features to help protect data and fend off so-called "Zoombombing".

The platform is now being used by hundreds of millions of people for work and leisure, as lockdowns are imposed around the world.

"We will earn our customers’ trust and deliver them happiness with our unwavering focus on providing the most secure platform,” Zoom's chief executive Eric Yuan said in a statement.

Zoom has been criticised for a range of privacy issues, including sending user data to Facebook, wrongly claiming the app had end-to-end encryption, and allowing meeting hosts to track attendees.

One of the app’s most high-profile issues has been “Zoombombing” incidents, where uninvited guests crash meetings. This has led to several companies, schools and governments stopping the use of the platform.

In the UK there has been debate about whether the government should be using Zoom for cabinet meetings, after Prime Minister Boris Johnson tweeted a picture which included the ID number of the latest meeting.

It has also been reported that Elon Musk has banned the use of Zoom for SpaceX meetings over security concerns. Nasa, which is one of Space X's biggest customers, also prevents employees from using it.

Meanwhile, Singapore suspended the use of video-conferencing tool Zoom by its teachers, after a "very serious incident" during a home-based lesson.

Earlier this month Zoom said it would pause the development of any new features to concentrate on safety and privacy issues.

Mr Yuan apologised for "falling short" on security issues and promised to address concerns, saying that the use of Zoom had soared in ways he could never have foreseen prior to the coronavirus pandemic.

That came as daily user numbers have soared to 200 million from 10 million in less than three months.

At the same time New York's attorney general has written to the firm raising concerns over its ability to cope with the rise in users.

The letter from the office of New York Attorney General Letitia James asked Zoom whether it had reviewed its security measures since its popularity surged. It also pointed out that in the past the app had been slow to address issues.

In response to a request from the BBC for comment, a company spokesperson said: "Zoom takes its users' privacy, security, and trust extremely seriously."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52392084


22/04/2020

Coronavirus: supporting yourself and your team

We know that many of us are worrying about the current situation around coronavirus and how it might affect our lives. It's likely that we'll be working from home for longer periods of time to help keep us all safe during the coronavirus outbreak. Therefore, it’s important we recognise how it may affect our mental health and ensure we are taking care of ourselves and our colleagues.

Maintain a positive work/life balance and encourage your team to do the same 

It’s easy to work longer hours and take fewer breaks when working from home. Why not put a reminder in your diary when you plan to finish working? You can also make sure you take at least a 30-minute lunch break. If you can, try to get some fresh air and go for a short walk. It’s important you look after your own wellbeing so you can also be there to support your team.

Check in with team members regularly

Working from home can be isolating; ensure you and your team have regular check-ins virtually. Find an online tool that works for your team whether it’s Microsoft teams, a conference call facility like Skype or by phone. Make sure these regular check-ins are scheduled in advance with your team members: have some daily scheduled chat time with each of them and regular time in the diary as a team.

Establish new ways of working 

Working remotely will require consideration as to how you will deliver work as a team - what collaborative working platforms will be used, how you will communicate and how you support each other through challenges. Some of it might be trial and error so it is also important to think about how you will reflect on what’s working and what isn’t.

Ask your team to create Wellness Action Plans 

This is an uncertain and worrisome time for many and some of your team may need additional support. Why not encourage your team to complete a Welllness Action Plan (WAP) and encourage them to share this with you. If they already have one then it would be helpful to review in light of recent developments and changes. This can be looked at and kept up to date during 1-2-1s. Everyone can complete a WAP, you don't need to have a mental health problem in order to feel the benefits. It just means that you already have practical steps in place to ensure you are supported when you aren't feeling great. 

Take advantage of technology 

Use Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Skype or other communication/collaborative working platforms to connect with colleagues and work together. It’s can also be good idea to use a range of technologies so you're not always typing or looking at a screen – switch things up with a telephone call or video call so you can see someone face to face.

Encourage your team to use the support tools available 

Whatever wellbeing support your organisation has available, make sure your team knows about it and how to access it. At Mind, we’re offering counselling sessions via skype or phone and we will be trailing the physical activity classes that we offer online. You could also ask your team what tools they might find useful. 

https://www.mind.org.uk/workplace/mental-health-at-work/coronavirus-supporting-yourself-and-your-team/

General issues to consider with coronavirus aid and funding

Child benefit

Individuals who have previously stopped claiming child benefit due to income being over £50k may wish to consider reinstating a claim. Whilst they may have to pay this back through self-assessment, the immediate extra cash may just help.

Directors claiming SSP

Directors of their own companies on small salaries/dividend remuneration strategies need to be careful about claiming SSP for themselves during the current pandemic as it could have auto-enrolment pension implications. With one-man band companies operating as above they will likely have been classed as “non-employers” for auto-enrolment purposes thus avoiding the obligation. A claim for SSP runs the risk of creating an implied contract of employment which could leave you in breach of auto-enrolment obligations.

Universal credit

An application for universal credit usually means that HMRC is released from any existing time-to-pay arrangement and the tax debt is transferred to The Department for Work and Pensions. The tax debt is then reduced via a reduction in universal credit payments. It is hoped, but by no means certain, that this policy isn’t enforced during the current pandemic, but nothing has come out yet to say the position will alter.

VAT error correction notices

HMRC will temporarily accept Error Correction Notices by email. Completed VAT 652s should be sent to: inbox.btcnevaterrorcorrection@hmrc.gov.uk. The email inbox should only be used to submit VAT Error Correction Notices (VAT652) and is not for general use.

Government Help and State Aid Issues

The EU state aid rules are complex but, in essence, they are designed to prevent member states introducing measures which may otherwise distort competition within the single market. Broadly, a measure will constitute state aid if it is an advantage granted by a member state on a selective basis that could distort competition and trade in the EU. That includes grants, loans or tax breaks only available to businesses of a certain size, or to certain sectors or industries. Some of the current Covid-aid fall under the state aid banner with the following implications:

  • impact on the availability of the employment allowance if sufficient State Aid has been received in the previous three years (very broadly speaking 200,000 euros – although lower levels apply to certain business sectors).
  • turn an SME R&D claim into an RDEC claim. However, this can only be in point if the receipt of Covid related funds is earmarked for an R&D project. For example, payment of furloughed wages shouldn’t impact on a claim as those wages cannot be said to be R&D wages as the relevant employees shouldn’t be working. Receipt of a Corona Virus Business Interruption Loan that relates directly to an R&D project will prohibit an SME claim and a move over to the less favourable RDEC scheme.

Where possible any Covid-aid received from the Government should be earmarked as for “general business use” as opposed to for a specific purpose.

SEIS funding could also be restricted through receipt of the various Covid-aid packages out there.

The above are just a few examples, and usually when any sort of tax break that requires State Aid considerations, there are questions around this on the relevant application.

How Hallidays can help

If you need any further support, please contact a member of the Hallidays team on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk

Apply for the coronavirus Future Fund

This scheme will issue convertible loans between £125,000 to £5 million to innovative companies which are facing financing difficulties due to the coronavirus outbreak.

This scheme is not available yet. It will launch in May 2020.

The Future Fund will provide government loans to UK-based companies ranging from £125,000 to £5 million, subject to at least equal match funding from private investors.

These convertible loans may be a suitable option for businesses that rely on equity investment and are unable to access the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The scheme will be delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank.

The headline terms setting out the main features expected to apply to the loans are attached at the bottom of this page.

Eligibility

You’re eligible if your business:

  • is based in the UK
  • can attract the equivalent match funding from third-party private investors and institutions
  • has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third-party investors in the last 5 years

Full eligibility criteria will be published shortly.

How to apply

The Future Fund will launch in May 2020. Further details about this scheme will be published shortly.

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/future-fund

Find coronavirus financial support for your business

Online finder tool with a simple questionnaire to help businesses access the relevant government financial support they are eligible for during the coronavirus pandemic. The support finder covers SMEs and large companies in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) support is available to employers and the self-employed. You may be eligible for loans, tax relief and cash grants.

Use this business support finder to see what support is available for you and your business.

https://www.gov.uk/business-coronavirus-support-finder


21/04/2020

Adult education, skills and employment programmes approved during coronavirus

Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) has confirmed the funding for adult education, skills and employment programmes during the coronavirus outbreak.

The £200 million funding for the city-region’s local authorities, colleges, training providers and employment support organisations, covering almost 100 contracts and agreements. Those organisations can now continue to deliver vital skills and employment programmes to residents, supporting community resilience across Greater Manchester’s ten boroughs.

Programmes supported by the scheme range from devolved activity, such as the Adult Education Budget and GM Working Well, to smaller-scale activity and pilots programmes funded entirely or in part by GMCA.

Greater Manchester’s Adult Education Budget, covers £92 million per year of projects that provide education and skills provision for over 70,000 residents each year. GMCA has confirmed it will pay 100% of agreed allocations for grant-funded adult education providers. Additionally, it will make payments to providers with procured contracts until the end of June, but with an intention to provide a level of financial certainty for the remainder of this academic year subject to any further Government guidance.

The funding will enable education providers and their supply chains to adapt to the changes necessary during the coronavirus outbreak and deliver crucial skills training to Greater Manchester residents.Training providers have also been given extra flexibility to respond to new skills demands arising from the pandemic, as people look to retrain or upskill in new areas.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham, said:

These are unprecedented times, but so much important work is carrying on to help communities across Greater Manchester cope with this outbreak and prepare for the future. By joining up our approach to skills, employment and wellbeing, we can provide financial security to our colleges and providers and help them to address the challenges we’re facing. This is going to be vital to supporting our most vulnerable residents, now and in the weeks and months to come.”

Cllr Sean Fielding, GMCA Lead for Education, Skills, Work and Apprenticeships, said:

I am very pleased that an approach to supporting our work and skills providers in terms of financial stability has been agreed.

“As always, our city-region is pulling together in difficult times. Our colleges, training providers, employment support partners and local authorities have responded quickly to the unfolding situation and many have already done an incredible job of adapting their ways of working to maintain services and support the most vulnerable, and we can’t thank them enough for that commitment.”

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/adult-education-skills-and-employment-programmes-approved-during-coronavirus/

Focus on your personal wealth in addition to your business

You need to not only be looking at your business during the pandemic but also at your personal finances. This is the time where, if you haven't already done so, you should look at what spending you need to curb as a family. We have a simple spreadsheet for you to use. It does still make you think about planning for future needs (we're guessing there are going to be lots of street parties and holidays when this is all over!). It focuses on the following key areas: Property / Household, Lifestyle, Education, Growth, Savings and Contributions.

If you would like a copy of the personal wealth planner spreadsheet, please contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Billion-pound support package for innovative firms hit by coronavirus

UK businesses driving innovation and development will be helped through the coronavirus outbreak with a £1.25 billion government support package, the Chancellor announced.

Rishi Sunak said the targeted and tailored help would ensure firms in some of the most dynamic sectors of the UK economy – ranging from tech to life sciences – are protected through the crisis so they can continue to develop innovative new products and help power UK growth.

The comprehensive package includes a new £500 million loan scheme for high-growth firms, called the Future Fund, and £750 million of targeted support for small and medium sized businesses focusing on research and development.

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak, said:

Britain is a global leader when it comes to innovation. Our start-ups and businesses driving research and development are one of our great economic strengths, and will help power our growth out of the coronavirus crisis.

This new, world-leading fund will mean they can access the capital they need at this difficult time, ensuring dynamic, fast-growing firms across all sectors will be able to continue to create new ideas and spread prosperity.

Alok Sharma, Business Secretary, said:

The UK is a world leader in innovation and at this hugely challenging time, we know that young, fast-growing firms require tailored support to see them through.

This wide-ranging package delivers important help that will protect some of the most dynamic sectors of our economy.

Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Oliver Dowden, said:

We are the tech and creative capital of Europe, and it’s crucial to maintain our place. This funding will protect high growth businesses and enable the unicorns of tomorrow to thrive so that tech is in pole position to drive our post COVID recovery.

The £500 million Future Fund has been designed to ensure high-growth companies across the UK receive the investment they need to continue during the crisis.

Delivered in partnership with the British Business Bank and launching in May, the fund will provide UK-based companies with between £125,000 and £5 million from the government, with private investors at least matching the government commitment. These loans will automatically convert into equity on the company’s next qualifying funding round, or at the end of the loan if they are not repaid. To be eligible, a business must be an unlisted UK registered company that has previously raised at least £250,000 in equity investment from third party investors in the last five years.

The government is committing an initial £250 million in funding towards the scheme, which will initially be open until the end of September. The scale of the fund will be kept under review.

The £750 million of targeted support for the most R&D intensive small and medium size firms will be available through Innovate UK’s grants and loan scheme.

Innovate UK, the national innovation agency, will accelerate up to £200 million of grant and loan payments for its 2,500 existing Innovate UK customers on an opt-in basis. An extra £550 million will also be made available to increase support for existing customers and £175,000 of support will be offered to around 1,200 firms not currently in receipt of Innovate UK funding. The first payments will be made by mid-May.

This package builds on the government’s existing support for innovative, high-growth firms including the £2.5 billion British Patient Capital fund, the upcoming £200 million Life Sciences Investment Programme, internationally competitive R&D tax reliefs and our major commitments to increase public R&D spending to £22 billion by 2024-25.

Further information

  • the £500 million Future Fund is comprised of £250 million from government combined with equal match funding from private investors
  • further detail on eligibility criteria and fund operation will be published in due course

Will Shu, CEO and founder of Deliveroo, said:

It’s great news that the Chancellor is supporting British start-ups that are innovating and will be so vital to the UK economy in the months and years ahead with such a practical and thoughtful scheme.

Daniel Hegarty, founder and CEO of Habito said:

As a start-up and the UK’s leading digital mortgage company already helping the millions of homeowners and would-be homeowners affected by the coronavirus crisis across the nation, we welcome the Chancellor’s new support package with open arms. We’re already seeing start-ups adapting, pivoting and innovating at pace to help both customers and industry stakeholders navigate this time of uncertainty and I have no doubt businesses like ours will be key to helping stabilise the economy in the coming months.

Sir Mark Walport, Chief Executive of UK Research and Innovation, said:

As an important part of this support package for innovative firms, Innovate UK will provide immediate cashflow support to small companies who are developing the products and services of the future, to continue this work throughout the crisis and be an engine for growth once the outbreak is over.

Dom Hallas, Executive Director of The Coalition for a Digital Economy (Coadec) said:

Britain is the start-up capital of Europe and this package is a signal of intent that the Government will make sure it remains so in the future. This support will help early-stage innovators survive the crisis and thrive after it.

Brent Hoberman, Founders Forum, Founders Factory, firstminute capital Co-Founder and Executive Chairman said:

Entrepreneurs across the country will be delighted with the announcement that the Chancellor has launched this important source of support at this critical time.

The capital being made available under the Chancellor’s programme should also serve as a powerful catalyst to the unlocking of private support, which together, will provide essential funding to worthy early stage companies to help them get through the current crisis.

Some of these companies are destined to become the technology success stories of our future. In time we should be able look back and see that government support at this critical juncture helped some of the early stage companies of today turn into the job creators, tax-payers and technology leaders of our future.

With the shot-in-the-arm now being provided by the Chancellor, the U.K. should remain the first choice for founders seeking to grow their technology companies in Europe.

Mike Cherry, Federation of Small Businesses National Chair, said:

Today’s announcement will be a vital cashflow boost for many smaller businesses at the forefront of technological development and innovation. This is an investment in transforming our futures, as these SMEs focus on research and development in key areas such as life sciences, artificial intelligence, big data, and clean energy. We will work with the Chancellor, British Business Bank and Innovate UK to raise awareness of the programmes and get this help out to where it’s needed.

Julian David, techUK CEO said:

techUK welcomes the support being made available today by Government. The businesses that will be supported by these schemes represent the innovative companies of tomorrow. techUK will continue to work with Government to clarify how the schemes will work in practice to ensure the broadest range of companies can benefit from this lifeline.

The UK’s tech sector has been working with the Government and NHS to contribute to the COVID crisis response and this scheme will help ensure that more of these companies are able to survive to help UK communities and the economy recover post-crisis.

Charlotte Crosswell, Innovate Finance CEO said:

We welcome the announcement from the Chancellor regarding support for high-growth FinTechs and start-ups. Financial innovation will play a vital role as we emerge from the crisis, especially in areas of financial inclusion, SME financing and digital transformation of the financial services sector.

More broadly, this is about protecting the innovation in finance that will be vital for the UK’s recovery efforts. These new measures will help FinTech businesses to raise the funds needed to survive the crisis. It will support a sector full of early stage companies, which are more prone to struggle in these volatile times.

The UK is already known globally as a leader in FinTech and we want to ensure companies have support and funding in place to continue their development at this crucial time.

Tej Parikh, IoD Chief Economist said:

It’s welcome to see the Government continuing to adapt its support measures in response to the situation on the ground. Our start-up community has been a driving force for the economy, and it’s vital they get the support they need. At such difficult times, the importance of innovation comes to the fore. When we emerge from this challenging time, we will need the UK’s entrepreneurial spirit to be stronger than ever.

Michael Moore, the Director General of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association (BVCA), said:

The government’s new programme to support venture-backed businesses is very welcome.

The UK is a global leader in key aspects of the digital, high technology and life science economies: this scheme recognises the sector’s importance and will help businesses to navigate the COVID-19 crisis as we seek to maintain and develop that leadership position.

We will continue to work with the government on the details and extent of the programme to ensure that the finance achieves the objective of sustaining this strategically-important sector.

Gerard Grech, Chief Executive, Tech Nation said:

This is a bold and welcome intervention for the tech sector. Tech start-ups and scale-ups are crucial to the UK’s future growth, jobs and innovation.

At this moment of global crisis, the UK must ensure that the tech sector builds on the huge successes it has achieved over the past 10 years, and that it continues to deliver for the economy. In 2019, a staggering 33% of all European tech investment was in the UK. We must do everything to keep building on this success story.

Erin Platts, Silicon Valley Bank, Head of EMEA and President of the UK Branch said:

We welcome today’s announcement from the Chancellor as a very positive step in supporting the UK’s Innovation Economy. Getting funds into the hands of entrepreneurs to protect the UK’s technology and healthcare industry is critical to maintaining our place as one of the most attractive and successful tech hubs globally. UK start-ups and scale-ups are creating technologies and jobs that are critical to the development of life changing breakthroughs and enhancements in the areas of healthcare, finance, communication, education, work and beyond. We believe these actions are a welcome step in the right direction and we look forward to supporting UK innovation companies and their investors through these initiatives and other government programmes.

Hussein Kanji, Partner Hoxton Ventures LLP said:

We’re delighted to see that the government highly values the UK startup community and is willing to protect it, especially during this turbulent period. The UK has developed into a leading innovation economy over the past decade and we’re confident that with everyone’s support, we will continue to build upon this growth and leadership.

Bill Winters, Group Chief Executive at Standard Chartered Bank, said:

We are delighted to see the Chancellors announcement of the formation of the Future Fund. Standard Chartered has supported HM Treasury over the last few weeks with specific advice to address the innovation segment of the UK Economy during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Future Fund will provide vital funding to support UK innovative companies during this period of economic disruption. At Standard Chartered we stand ready to mobilise to ensure these funds are rapidly deployed to innovative companies here in the UK in need of capital.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/billion-pound-support-package-for-innovative-firms-hit-by-coronavirus

Claim for wages through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme

Claim for 80% of your employee’s wages plus any employer National Insurance and pension contributions, if you have put them on furlough because of coronavirus (COVID-19). Guidance published by HMRC on 20th April outlines how to claim. https://www.gov.uk/guidance/claim-for-wages-through-the-coronavirus-job-retention-scheme

Government launches new coronavirus business support finder tool

new ‘support finder’ tool will help businesses and self-employed people across the UK to quickly and easily determine what financial support is available to them during the coronavirus pandemic.

  • New online platform helps businesses easily access the financial support they are eligible for during the coronavirus pandemic
  • simple questionnaire takes business owners under a minute to complete and will signpost them to relevant government financial support

The finder tool on GOV.UK will ask business owners to fill out a simple online questionnaire, which can take minutes to complete, and they will then be directed to a list of all the financial support they may be eligible for.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “Businesses of all shapes and sizes play a vital role in our economy, which is why we want to make it as easy as possible for all of them to access our wide-ranging package of financial support during this challenging time. This online questionnaire takes just minutes to complete and will quickly signpost a business to the loans, grants or other schemes they could be eligible for.”

Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak said: “We’ve launched an unprecedented package of support to protect jobs, businesses and incomes during these challenging times. Millions are already benefitting and this new online tool will allow firms and individuals to identify what help they are entitled to in a matter of minutes. We are doing everything we can to make our support as accessible and as easy to navigate as possible.”

To support business, workers and the self-employed during the coronavirus outbreak, government has:

  • made up to £330 billion of loans and guarantees for businesses
  • offered to pay 80 per cent of the wages of furloughed workers, up to £2,500
  • deferred the next quarter of VAT payments for firms, until the end of June - representing a £30 billion injection into the economy
  • introduced £20 billion in tax relief and cash grants to help businesses with cash flow
  • introduced the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes for both SMEs and larger businesses to make it easier to access vital financial support
  • offered to cover the cost of statutory sick pay
  • entirely removed all eligible properties in the retail, hospitality and leisure sector from business rates temporarily;
  • introduced the Self-employment Income Support Scheme, offering a taxable grant worth 80% of trading profits up to a maximum of £2,500 a month
  • deferred Self Assessment payments due in July 2020 until 31 January 2021
  • allowed companies required to hold AGMs to do so flexibly, which may include postponing them or holding them online;
  • suspended wrongful trading provisions for company directors to remove the threat of personal liability during the pandemic; and
  • offered a 3 month extension for filing accounts to businesses hit by coronavirus.

Grant funding provided to businesses by local authorities in England

New figures have been published on the amount of money distributed to SMEs by every local authority in England as part of the 2 grant schemes launched to help businesses deal with coronavirus.

As part of the government’s coronavirus business support package, the UK government has distributed £12.3 billion to local authorities in England.

As of 20 April 2020, £6.11 billion has been paid out to 491,725 businesses properties, approximately half of the grant funding allocated (49.58%).

The Small Business Grants Fund is a £10,000 grant per eligible business, originally announced at Budget. Businesses included in this scheme are those which on 11 March were eligible for relief under the Small Business Rate Relief Scheme (including those with a rateable value between £12,000 and £15,000 which receive tapered relief) or the Rural Rate Relief Scheme.

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Business Grants Fund was announced by the Chancellor on 17 March. Businesses in scope will be those that were eligible on 11 March for a discount under the Expanded Retail Discount scheme and with a rateable value of less than £51,000:

  • eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000
  • eligible businesses with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000

Grants will be provided in respect of each property (hereditament); therefore, businesses with multiple outlets would receive more than one grant and may receive grants from separate local authorities.

Additional information and data is available on their website.


20/04/2020

Financial support for education, early years and children’s social care

The government has put in place a number of funding and financial measures to support organisations – both public and private – during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. These are intended to be temporary, timely and targeted, to support public services, people and businesses through this period of disruption. This guidance sets out the financial support that is available for different types of education, early years and children’s social care providers in England. If you are not an education, early years and children’s social care provider in England, you should be able to get more information about the types of financial support available to you from other relevant government departments or devolved administrations.

No organisation should profit from the exceptional financial support available, and should therefore only access the support required. For example, organisations which continue to receive government funding should not furlough staff whose salaries that funding could typically be considered to fund, and therefore will not need to access the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS).

All organisations are expected to have adequate and effective governance arrangements and controls in place to ensure public funding is spent effectively and appropriately.

Funding and financial support for businesses

Continued government funding for activities

For many programmes, government will continue to provide funding at normal rates, for example core funding for schools through the Dedicated Schools Grant (DSG), to ensure business continuity and payment of staff. Local authorities will also continue to receive high needs funding as part of the DSG and should continue to pass this on to providers (including the top-up funding in respect of individual children and young people) at the normal rates.

Where funding continues to be paid, we expect providers to continue to provide that service in so far as is possible, and in accordance with the relevant guidance. Where activities have changed, staff should be redeployed as best supports the coronavirus (COVID-19) response and should continue to be paid as normal, even if typical duties cannot be carried out.

Support for business that pay business rates

In addition to existing business rates reliefs, the government has outlined further support via the business rate system which may be relevant to the education, early years and children’s social care sectors:

  • an additional Small Business Grant Scheme to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of small business rate relief (SBRR), rural rate relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible properties
  • business rates holiday for many nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register, and wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage. Billing authorities may not grant the relief to themselves

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the grants or holidays should be directed to the relevant billing authority.

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will help to support long-term viable businesses which may need to respond to cash-flow pressures as a result of the virus by seeking additional finance
  • the scheme supports SMEs with access to loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance of up to £5 million and for up to 6 years
  • the scheme is administered by commercial lenders, designed for UK-based organisations not classified as public sector
  • read more about the scheme and how to apply

Coronavirus (COVID-19) Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

  • the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) is a government-backed loan scheme administered by commercial lenders
  • viable UK-based businesses with a turnover of between £45 million and £500 million which are unable to access finance on normal commercial terms will be eligible to apply for a loan under the scheme
  • loans backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest
  • read more about the scheme and how to apply

COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility

  • the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) is a facility designed to support liquidity among larger firms, helping them to bridge coronavirus (COVID-19) disruption to their cash flows through the purchase of short-term debt in the form of commercial paper
  • the CCFF provides funding to businesses by purchasing commercial paper of up to one-year maturity, issued by firms making a material contribution to the UK economy. This facility will primarily provide bridging support to businesses to see them through the temporary nature of coronavirus (COVID-19)-related disruption
  • read more about the scheme and how to apply

Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) relief for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

  • the government has introduced a rebate scheme to allow small and medium-sized businesses not classified as public sector to reclaim Statutory Sick Pay (SSP) paid for staff sickness absence due to coronavirus (COVID-19). This refund will cover up to 2 weeks’ SSP per eligible employee who has been off work because they have been ill with the virus or have had to self-isolate because of it
  • employers must maintain records of staff absences
  • read more about the scheme

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme for furloughed workers

  • the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) is designed to support employers whose operations have been severely affected by coronavirus (COVID-19) by providing them with a grant to help them to continue paying part of their employees’ wages who would otherwise have been laid off during this outbreak
  • the scheme will ensure furloughed staff receive up to 80% of their usual monthly wage costs, up to £2,500 a month, plus the associated Employer National Insurance contribution and minimum automatic enrolment employer pension contribution on that wage
  • the scheme is available to all UK employers, including charities, which had created and started a PAYE payroll scheme by 28 February 2020
  • the government expects that the scheme will not be used by many public sector organisations, as most public sector employees are continuing to provide essential public services or contribute to the response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak
  • where employers receive public funding for staff costs, and that funding is continuing, we expect employers to use that money to continue to pay staff in the usual fashion – and correspondingly not furlough them. This also applies to non-public sector employers who receive public funding for staff costs
  • organisations that are receiving public funding specifically to provide services necessary to respond to coronavirus (COVID-19) are expected not to furlough staff
  • in a small number of cases, for example where organisations are not primarily funded by the government and whose staff cannot be redeployed to assist with the coronavirus response, the scheme may be appropriate

Public Procurement Note 02/20

  • in March 2020, the Cabinet Office published the ‘Procurement Policy Note 02/20 – Supplier relief due to COVID-19’. This confirmed that contracting authorities would act to support critical suppliers ‘at risk’ due to coronavirus (COVID-19) on a continuity and retention basis so they are better able to cope with current challenges and to resume normal service delivery and fulfil their contractual obligations when the outbreak is over
  • it covers procurements carried out under the Public Contract Regulations 2015, Defence and Security Public Contracts Regulations 2011, the Utilities Contracts Regulations 2016 and the Concession Contracts Regulations 2016
  • contracting authorities will need to ensure that spending is regular, proper and value for money and conduct appropriate and proportionate due diligence is carried out to ensure any relief is necessary for the continuity of supply of a critical service
  • read more about the Cabinet Office PPN 02/20 guidance

The guidance below is intended to offer a view of the likely suitability of each of the schemes above, based on provider type. For further guidance on eligibility criteria of the above support packages, please refer to their respective guidance page as linked above.

Which options should be used

Due to the variety of organisations in the education, early years and children’s social care sectors and the different types of support on offer, it may be appropriate for organisations to access a mixture of different support. However, we expect that all relevant organisations should first consider any potential options to reduce their operating cost and secure commercial loans (including CBILS, CLBILS and CCFF outlined above) before seeking to access grant paying schemes like the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme or seeking specific support from the Department for Education (DfE).

For organisations that are classified as public sector, and where there is continued public funding, staff that are supported by that public funding should not be furloughed. For public sector organisations where there is also private income which ceases or has reduced, it may be appropriate to furlough staff who would typically be paid from that private income, subject to the 5 conditions below.

We would encourage organisations to first consider how they would be able to redeploy their existing workforce to help support the coronavirus (COVID-19) response. Educational settings that are in receipt of some public funding should only furlough employees, and therefore seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, if they meet the following conditions:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and where their salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
  • (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not lead to financial reserves being created

It is also essential that the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme should not be duplicative of other public grants that your organisations may receive. DfE is considering appropriate measures to monitor use of these schemes in order to detect any duplication of funding, and will be considering potential options to recover misused public funding as required.

We are also developing an online tool that will support the education, early years, and children’s social care sectors, in working through this guidance, and understanding the different funding and financial measures available to support them, and their workforce, through this period of disruption caused by coronavirus (COVID-19).

Sector-specific guidance

Early years

This section will be relevant to early years providers that are employers, and that usually have a mix of public income (largely this will be funding for the free early education entitlements, also known as ‘DSG funding’) and private income (largely this will be the fees that parents pay for childcare beyond the free entitlements).

Childminders are less likely to be employers, and therefore are less likely to be eligible for support via the CJRS. Childminders may find the Self Employment Income Support Scheme more relevant. Maintained nursery schools should take account of the guidance in this section. For school-based nursery provision, please refer to the ‘schools’ section below.

On 17 March 2020, the Chancellor confirmed that the government will continue to pay local authorities for free early years entitlement places for 2, 3 and 4 year olds to support providers at this time. On 18 March 2020, the government also announced a business rates holiday for many nurseries in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year. Read the guidance.

Early years settings should remain open where they are needed to provide childcare for the children of critical workers who cannot be cared for safely at home, and vulnerable children.

A private provider should only furlough employees, and therefore seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, if they meet the following conditions:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and where their salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded (free entitlement funding)
  • (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not duplicate other public grants received, and would not lead to financial reserves being created

If it is difficult to distinguish whether staff are funded through free entitlement or private income for the purposes of meeting the first 3 conditions as listed above, then an early years provider can access the CJRS to cover up to the proportion of its paybill which could be considered to have been paid for from that provider’s private income. This would typically be income received from ‘parent-paid’ hours, and excludes all income from the government’s free entitlements (or ‘DSG income’) for all age groups. In line with the conditions of the scheme listed above, providers should initially use the month of February 2020 to represent their usual income in calculating the proportion of its paybill eligible to be covered by the scheme. Providers should adjust these proportions in subsequent furloughing applications if their income from the government’s free entitlements changes, but are not expected to make any adjustments in relation to changes in parent-paid income.

To illustrate:

If a provider’s average monthly income is 40% from DSG and 60% from other income, the provider could claim CJRS support for up to 60% of their paybill.

This would be done by furloughing staff whose usual salary / combined salaries come to no greater than 60% of the provider’s total paybill.

These proportions could change in subsequent furlough applications as a result of DSG income changing (but not where income from parents increased or decreased). For example, if this provider subsequently receives additional DSG income from a local authority as a result of providing additional hours of childcare, such that its new DSG income would represent 55% of its total income in February 2020, then its maximum use of the furlough scheme should, from that point, be reduced to 45% of its paybill.

Some early years settings may also be eligible for the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF). The details and eligibility criteria for SBGF can be found in the guidance. For more information, and to find out how to apply for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme, please refer to the Financial support for businesses during coronavirus (COVID-19) guidance.

Further guidance for early years providers is available.

The DfE is considering appropriate measures to monitor the use of these schemes in order to detect any duplication of funding, and will be considering potential options to recover misused public funding as required.

Children’s social care providers

Ensuring that vulnerable children remain protected is a top priority for government. Our aim is to ensure that children’s social care providers are able to continue to provide care to vulnerable children and to operate effectively during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

We are asking providers to remain open and to continue to deliver care and support to their vulnerable children and young people. We would anticipate local authorities continuing to fund any contracted or commissioned providers, but where appropriate, providers may wish to consider accessing support measures for which they may be eligible to help them remain operational during this period, such as the business interruption loan schemes. Please refer to the respective guidance page as linked above for more information.

As placements will continue to be needed, local authorities will continue to pay fees to children’s social care providers. As these payments for essential services will continue, we would expect providers not to furlough staff, and for provision to remain available to support vulnerable children. The government has also announced £1.6 billion of extra funding for local authorities to help address pressures arising from coronavirus (COVID-19), including in children’s social care.

In the rare circumstances that providers feel they have no choice but to furlough staff, they should only seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they meet the following conditions:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and whose salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
  • the employee is not required to deliver provision for a vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not duplicate other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created.

Residential provision

State-funded residential children’s social care provision is offered in state-maintained schools, non-maintained special schools and independent schools. While the educational costs are funded from the DSG, the residential costs are met from social care budgets. Local authorities will continue to receive funding for social care provision and should continue to pay residential costs so that the employment and payment of staff supporting children and young people who require residential provision can continue.

Some independent schools have joint registration as a children’s home, and are effectively funded by local authorities that place the children in those settings. This funding should continue.

State-funded schools

This includes maintained schools, academy trusts, alternative provision, non-maintained special schools, state funded boarding schools and school-based nursery provisions. Maintained nursery schools should refer to the early years section above.

Mainstream state-funded schools

Local authority maintained schools (including pupil referral units) and academies (including free schools) will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year, as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. That will ensure that they are able to continue to pay their staff, and meet their other regular financial commitments, as we move through these extraordinary times. We know that schools may face additional costs as a result of coronavirus (COVID-19). We have put in place additional support to help schools meet these costs; guidance is available on this additional funding.

We do not, in general, expect schools to furlough staff. However, we understand that, in some instances, schools may have a separate private income stream (for example, catering, sports facilities lettings, or boarding provision funded by parents in state boarding schools). Where this income has either stopped or been reduced and there are staff that are typically paid from those private income streams, it may be appropriate to furlough staff. Schools should first seek to make the necessary savings from their existing budget or consider options to redeploy these staff before furloughing them. Only after all other potential options have been fully considered should schools furlough those members of staff and seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

The following conditions need to be met:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and whose salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
  • (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not duplicate other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created

Where these conditions are met, schools should receive a grant from the CJRS which is in line with the proportion of its paybill which could be considered to have been funded by a school’s private income.

To illustrate:

If a school’s average monthly private income stream (for example, from parent-paid school meals) provides 4% of the schools’ overall income, the school could claim support through the CJRS for up to 4% of its paybill, after exhausting options to meet costs from existing budgets and redeployment This would be done by furloughing staff (for example, catering staff) whose usual salary or combined salaries are linked with the income lost and come to no greater than 4% of the provider’s total paybill.

Schools are not expected to consider each stream of private income separately so a school should consider its total income from private sources, as a proportion of its overall income, and the pay of all the staff it proposes to furlough, as a proportion of its total paybill.

The DfE is considering appropriate measures to monitor the use of this scheme in order to detect any duplication of funding, and will be considering potential options to recover misused public funding as required.

Supply teachers and other contingent workers in state-funded schools

The below guidance sets out the general principles that state-funded schools (hereafter referred to as ‘schools’ in this section) and employment intermediaries (hereafter referred to as ‘agencies’ in this section) should follow for contingent workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Where schools are the workers’ direct employer

Schools will continue to receive their budgets for the coming year as usual, regardless of any periods of partial or complete closure. This will ensure that they are able to continue to pay for staff and meet their other regular financial commitments.

Hence, we expect schools to ensure any employees funded by public money continue to be paid in the usual fashion from their existing staff budgets, and correspondingly not furloughed, in line with the HM Revenue and Customs guidance for public sector organisations.

Where schools have live assignments with contingent workers, and where the school is the workers’ employer, schools should continue to pay these workers from their existing school budgets and not furlough them.

Where schools have terminated contracts with contingent workers due to coronavirus (COVID-19) earlier than the original terms set out, and where the school was the workers’ employer under that contract, schools should reinstate these contracts on the terms previously agreed, as long as the contractor is not already accessing alternative support through another government support scheme.

Where schools are not the workers’ direct employer

Schools are advised to refer to all parts of the Procurement Policy Note 02/20 (PPN 02/20), which provides guidance for public bodies on payment of their suppliers for the purposes of ensuring the continuity of critical service during and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Where schools have agency workers on live assignments who can continue to work, they may continue to make previously agreed payments for the supply of workers in line with the approach set out in PPN 02/20. Agencies who receive money for workers in line with this guidance should not furlough these workers, and should follow the open book accounting rules set out in PPN 02/20 to provide schools with proof that workers are continuing to be paid as normal.

Where schools have agency workers on live assignments who cannot continue to work due to coronavirus (COVID-19), schools and agencies should refer to the guidance set out in Procurement Policy Note 02/20: Contingent Workers Impacted by COVID-19.

The supplier relief guidance covers the length of existing live assignments up to the end date that had been previously agreed. It does not require these assignments to be extended further if the resource will not be required.

Where agency workers are not on live assignments with schools, or where a previously agreed assignment is due to end, schools and agencies should discuss any further demand for the worker. If there is no further demand, the employer can apply to furlough the worker via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Once a worker has been furloughed, they become unavailable to work and cannot provide services for their employer for a minimum of 3 weeks. Schools and agencies should bear this in mind when discussing ongoing resource requirements and agencies should keep this under regular review. Please refer to the supplier relief guidance for more information.

Where a worker is self-employed

Self-employed workers who are unable to work because of coronavirus (COVID-19) will be able to access support through the Self-Employment Income Support Scheme.

Starting new temporary contracts

We expect schools will use their existing staff to maintain necessary provision, but schools may also continue to need supply teachers and other temporary workers throughout this period. We encourage schools and agencies to continue to liaise about any potential need to ensure workers are available where required.

School workforce employers can find additional guidance on the school workforce in the guidance on temporary school closures.

High needs funding

Local authorities have an important role in making sure that the high needs funding they receive as part of their DSG is used effectively in making educational provision for children and young people up to the age of 25 with Education, Health and Care (EHC) plans, and other vulnerable children and young people. Authorities will continue to receive their high needs budgets and should continue to pay top-up and other high needs funding so that the employment and payment of staff supporting children and young people with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND), and those requiring alternative provision, can continue. High needs funding will therefore continue to be paid to the following types of setting, whether from local or central government:

  • local authority-maintained schools (mainstream, special and pupil referral units)
  • academies and free schools (mainstream, special and alternative provision)
  • non-maintained special schools
  • independent schools, including independent special schools
  • independent alternative provision
  • high needs places in further education (FE) colleges and sixth form colleges
  • special post-16 providers
  • hospital schools

Funding will be maintained and should not be reduced because some or all children and young people are not in attendance (because of sickness or self-isolation, or where the institution has temporarily or partially closed).

Similarly, where settings pay top-up or other funding for pupils attending alternative provision, or pay for other SEND or alternative provision services, these payments should continue to be made so that teachers and other staff in all types of setting can be paid in accordance with their existing employment contracts. If placements and services for the summer term have not yet been agreed, settings should be willing to fund on the basis of previous patterns of placements and commissioning. Where changes to the delivery of special provision and alternative provision are required, the first response should be to redeploy existing resources, if necessary between settings and other institutions as well as within settings.

Teaching and non-teaching staff (administration, operations, maintenance and catering) should not be furloughed where they are funded from continued high needs funding, and where necessary and feasible, should be available for redeployment within settings and in other settings to assist in maintaining provision for vulnerable children and young people, and the children of critical workers.

Residential special schools

State-funded residential special provision is delivered in various types of setting, including state-maintained schools, non-maintained special schools, independent schools and special post 16 institutions. While the educational costs will continue to be funded from the DSG, the residential costs are met from social care budgets. Local authorities will continue to receive funding for social care provision and should continue to pay residential costs so that the employment and payment of staff supporting children and young people who require residential provision can continue.

Independent schools

Mainstream independent schools

In line with other settings, independent schools have been asked to remain open for the children of critical workers and the most vulnerable children. Independent schools are, in general, funded by fee income paid by parents. Since schools have closed to the majority of pupils, they, like other businesses, may be facing a sudden and substantial loss of income. These institutions should access the support schemes referred to above, in order to retain staff and enable the school to reopen fully in due course.

However, if there are any activities for which schools continue to receive public funding, such as looked after children placed by a local authority, or local authority support for pupils with EHC plans, we expect schools to use that money to continue to pay those staff in the usual fashion – and therefore not furlough them or seek support via the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Independent special schools

The majority of pupils in independent special schools have been placed there by local authorities under an EHC plan, funded from the high needs block of the DSG.

As noted above, local authorities will continue to receive their high needs budgets and should continue to pay top-up and other high needs funding to independent special schools, so that the employment and payment of staff supporting children and young people with SEND can continue. Some independent special schools also have pupils who are funded privately instead of under an EHC plan. These institutions should only access the support schemes identified above in relation to the proportion of staff that is not supported through public funding, and only to the extent that the school is facing a loss of income because the children have been withdrawn by their parents leading to a loss of fee income.

Further education and apprenticeships

Further education and apprenticeship providers include further education colleges, sixth form colleges, designated institutions, independent training providers, adult and community learning providers, and higher education institutions to the extent that they provide further education or apprenticeships. They are funded in 3 main ways: by grant; under a direct contract for services with ESFA; or through a funding agreement with the ESFA (where provision is delivered under a contract for services between a levy paying employer and an apprenticeships training provider, or advanced learner loan funded learning).

Where the provider is continuing to receive public funding through any of these routes they should continue delivering this provision where feasible, including through remote delivery. They should not furlough staff whose salaries are paid from continuing Education and Skills Funding Agency (or any other public) income. This applies to both teaching and non-teaching staff.

We recognise that many providers rely on funding from a mix of public sources and other income streams such as fees, employer contributions and commercial income. Where public income has reduced or non-public income has ceased or reduced, it may be appropriate for providers to seek support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff. Providers should only furlough employees if they meet the following conditions:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and whose salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
  • (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not duplicate other public grants received and would not lead to financial reserves being created

If it is difficult to distinguish whether staff are funded through continuing public funding, for the purposes of meeting the first 3 conditions listed above, then the total proportion of teaching and non-teaching staff (based on gross payroll) that are retained (for example, not furloughed) should, as a minimum, be equivalent to the continuing public income, as a proportion of all income that the provider usually receives. For example, if the only source of public funding is through a grant, and non-grant income makes up 25% of total income, then this should be the total maximum proportion of staff (based on gross payroll) that could be furloughed.

Where providers consider furloughing staff, they should ensure that they take a fair and reasonable approach to part-time, sessional and temporary staff, reflective of good HR practice and legal requirements.

Where a provider receives Adult Education Budget (AEB), or apprenticeship funding, as part of a direct contract for services with ESFA, and is at risk financially, they may be eligible for support (subject to meeting additional criteria) as part of DfE’s response to the Cabinet Office’s Procurement Policy Note 02/20. Support provided through that mechanism would count as public funding for the purposes of conditions covering the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme.

Further guidance on the operation of any supplier relief scheme for providers funded under a contract for services with ESFA will be published when available. Providers should email ESFA.PPN220Queries@education.gov.uk to register their interest in the scheme.

In instances where public funding is not delivered under a contract for services with the ESFA, the Cabinet Officer’s Procurement Policy Note 02/20 is not applicable.

The DfE is considering appropriate measures to monitor use of these schemes in order to detect any duplication of funding, and will be considering potential options to recover misused public funding as required.

Some providers may also be eligible for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme or Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme. For more information on eligibility, please consult your commercial bank or refer to the financial support for businesses guidance.

Special post-16 institutions

As noted above, local authorities will continue to receive their high needs budgets and should continue to pay top-up and other high needs funding to special post-16 institutions, so that the employment and payment of staff supporting young people with SEND can continue. The ESFA will continue to provide high needs place funding. Similarly, local authorities should continue to support the residential costs of those students that are in residential provision.

As with colleges, special post-16 institutions may rely on non-grant income for young people with EHC plans. If such income has ceased or reduced, it may be appropriate for special post-16 institutions to seek support from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme to furlough staff who are working on activities relating to those non-grant income streams, in the same way as providers as set out above.

Higher Education

During and after the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, our aim is for Higher Education (HE) providers to continue to:

  • deliver HE provision
  • support the needs of students, both on and off campus

We will work with HE providers to help them access the range of measures on offer to:

  • support financial viability and sustainability
  • safeguard jobs (including those staff on casual, hourly paid or fixed-term contracts)

We have confirmed that the Student Loans Company is planning to make Term 3 tuition fee payments as scheduled.

We expect that in most circumstances, HE providers will be able to continue paying their staff as usual because HE delivery has largely moved online, and staff are maintaining key services, including those for students remaining on campus.

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Schemes (CLBILS) and COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF)

If HE providers meet the published criteria for the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) or the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS), they should consider approaching their bank to apply for the scheme, if they judge that is needed. HE providers who do not meet the criteria, namely those with turnover exceeding £500m, may similarly wish to explore the COVID-19 Corporate Financing Facility (CCFF) and should liaise with their bank to discuss eligibility. If their bank does not issue commercial paper, UK Finance has published a list of those banks that are able to assist.

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS)

Where the above schemes are not appropriate, HE providers are eligible for the CJRS. HE providers should only furlough employees and seek support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme if they meet the following conditions:

  • the employee works in an area of business where services are temporarily not required and whose salary is not covered by public funding
  • the employee would otherwise be made redundant or laid off
  • the employee is not involved in delivering provision that has already been funded
  • (where appropriate) the employee is not required to deliver provision for a child of a critical worker and/or vulnerable child
  • the grant from the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme would not be duplicative to other public grants that the HE provider receives and would not lead to financial reserves being created

Any grant from the CJRS should not duplicate other sources of public funding where these are being maintained, such as UK home student tuition fees. However, we do recognise the complexity of HE revenue and the role that cross-subsidy plays. If it is difficult to distinguish whether staff are funded through public or commercial income for the purposes of meeting the first 3 conditions as listed above, and some staff will be funded through multiple sources, as a guiding principle, HE providers should not seek to furlough a higher proportion of their wage bill than could reasonably be considered to have been generated through commercial income, including from non-public research grants and contracts.

It is likely that decisions on whether to furlough staff will need to be taken on a case by case basis. To be eligible for the CJRS, when on furlough, an employee cannot undertake work for, or on behalf of, their employer.

Where research work has been paused (for example, where grant holders have requested a no-cost extension to UK Research & Innovation grants) and therefore providers are not able to receive payments towards staff costs for a period, resulting in a loss of income due to ceased or reduced delivery of research programmes, providers should consider their eligibility and apply for the wide range of financial support that HM Treasury has already announced for businesses, including the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme in line with the above conditions.

The DfE is considering appropriate measures to monitor the use of these schemes in order to detect any duplication of funding, and will be considering potential options to recover misused public funding as required.

We will continue to engage with the sector and update this guidance, and provide further clarification as necessary.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care/coronavirus-covid-19-financial-support-for-education-early-years-and-childrens-social-care

Government unveils £1.3bn scheme to help start-ups

The government has announced a £1.25bn package to support innovative new companies that are not eligible for existing coronavirus rescue schemes.

It will match up to £250m of private investment and add £550m to an existing loan and grant scheme for smaller firms that focus on research and development.

Adding it up, that totals £800m of new money to support fledgling firms.

Chancellor Rishi Sunak said start-ups would help power the UK's growth after the coronavirus crisis.

"This new, world-leading fund will mean they can access the capital they need at this difficult time, ensuring dynamic, fast-growing firms across all sectors will be able to continue to create new ideas and spread prosperity," he said.

Newly-founded companies often lose money in their early years, which makes them ineligible for the government's emergency loan scheme. But it also makes them a risky investment.

It took some of the world's most well known and valuable firms - including Amazon and Tesla - years to turn a profit. Uber is yet to make any profit at all.

However, the government is keen to ensure that the economic impact of the coronovirus does not kill off some of the UK's fastest growing and most innovative companies.

What's the catch?

Nevertheless, the rescue package comes with strings attached.

To qualify to receive the government money, a company must have raised £250,000 privately in the last five years.

On top of that, any money put in by the government must be matched by private investors. And, if the money is not repaid, the government will take an ownership stake in the company.

The package has been broadly welcomed by the entrepreneur community but some have warned that - as with other coronavirus support mechanisms - complexity is the enemy of speed. And it's speed that is all important.

As of last week, just over £1bn in government-backed loans had been approved out of a total support package of £330bn.

Under the scheme, the government guarantees 80% of each of the loans, which are issued by banks. But many firms have complained that those banks have been slow to lend cash because they would be left to cover 20% of losses on loans that cannot be repaid.

That has put pressure on the Treasury to increase the government guarantee to 100% to accelerate the approval process.

Treasury officials have raised the spectre of widespread abuse of the programme if the government were to fully guarantee all loans to coronavirus-affected companies. But the Bank of England Governor, Andrew Bailey, has said that increasing the government guarantee would make the process "less complicated".

And a former senior Treasury official, who did not want to be named, warned that Mr Sunak's department was trying to be "too clever by half", a tacit admission - perhaps - that in a time of economic crisis, there is no such thing as a blunt instrument.

Meanwhile, the head of the International Monetary Fund, Kristilan Georgieva, told the BBC that governments around the world should pay out money as fast as possible but, she said, "keep the receipts".

The emergency is now. The reckoning can come later.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52348409

Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme: step by step guide for employers

This step by step guide explains the information that employers need to provide to HMRC to make a claim through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS). It also describes the processes involved.

Businesses urged to urgently access coronavirus funding before deadline

Greater Manchester mayor Andy Burnham led calls for businesses to urgently apply for a share of the £629m coronavirus grant funding available from local authorities in the region.

Businesses that are the main rate payer of business rates can be eligible for grant support of between £10,000 and £25,000 and may miss out on vital financial support if they do not apply by the end of April.

It is vital that eligible businesses contact their local authority to apply for a grant.

Funding is available for eligible companies but councils administering schemes may not have contact details for businesses, many of which are temporarily closed due to coronavirus.

The Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) will provide businesses with a grant of £10,000 to help support them during the COVID-19 crisis.

This grant is for businesses, with a property, that as of March 11, 2020, were in receipt of Small Business Rates Relief or Rural Rates Relief.

The Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund (RHLGF) will offer businesses in these sectors across Greater Manchester a grant of up to £25,000.

This grant is for businesses in those sectors with a rateable value of less than £51,000 and who would have been eligible for the Expanded Retail Discount Scheme.

For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000 or less the grant will be £10,000. For businesses with a rateable value of £15,000-£51,000 the grant will be £25,000.

Businesses need to apply via the local authority where they are located.

Businesses can also find out if they are eligible by going to https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/local-business-support/greater-manchester and https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-business-support-grant-funding-guidance-for-businesses

Mayor Andy Burnham, along with Greater Manchester local authority leaders, members of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, and the Growth Company, is working to ensure that businesses are accessing the support that is available for them.

Mayor Burnham said: “Colleagues in all of Greater Manchester’s local authorities are working flat out to get this money out to businesses who so desperately need it to survive.

Ethical lender asks Stockport business leaders to invest in local community

In an open letter to the people of Stockport, the chief executive of Stockport Credit Union has appealed to anyone with financial security to help others who are struggling to make ends meet or may be facing financial challenges during the coronavirus crisis.

In the letter, titled ‘Stockport Needs You’, Jonathan Moore, said: “In these difficult times we all want to help each other out and the current crisis is creating some fantastic examples of neighbourly and community spirit.

“It’s wonderful that those who need help can reach out and receive it.

“Sadly, in recent days, we have seen many more people looking to borrow and others are drawing on what small savings they have with us to tide them over.

“This is not surprising during the times we are living through. Some of the stories of hardship that we have heard point to some real challenges within our community.”

He added: “We are there so our community members can put food on the table and pay rent, without resorting to unethical and extortionate lenders. We would like more of our neighbours to join and become members so that we can do what we do best.”

Stockport Credit Union provides small loans to people who need help to make ends meet.

It also supports them to achieve financial independence and encourages them to save for the future and reduce their borrowing needs.

https://www.thebusinessdesk.com/northwest/news/2058628-ethical-lender-asks-stockport-business-leaders-to-invest-in-local-community


17/04/2020

Business Insurance

The spread of Coronavirus is unprecedented in modern times and we understand this is an incredibly difficult time for families and businesses. No insurance market provides widespread insurance coverage for pandemics and the UK is no exception. For such cover to be available at affordable prices for businesses would require a very significant subsidy from the government, given the scale of business disruption we have seen with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, standard commercial insurance policies – the type the vast majority of businesses purchase – provide cover against a wide range of day to day risks including damage caused by fire, flood, theft and accidents involving employees. Insurers action claims of £22m each day to firms through these policies, supporting millions of businesses across the UK each year.

Only a very small number of businesses choose to buy any form of cover that includes business interruption due to a notifiable or infectious disease. Usually these extensions list very specific diseases that are covered, not any notifiable disease that may emerge such as COVID-19. An even smaller number will have cover where the notifiable or infectious disease is unspecified enabling them to potentially claim for the impact of the Coronavirus pandemic. However, such policies often respond only when the disease is present at the premises as they cover the interruption to trade caused where business premises have been infected by an illness such as Legionnaires’ disease or norovirus and where the building needs to be closed and cleaned to deal with the specific incident.

How does business insurance work?

  • Commercial insurance is generally an advised sale where businesses make informed choices about the type of cover they need. An adviser or broker will work with the business and advise on the appropriate insurance to suit their needs. A very small number of businesses may have cover in place that specifically provides cover for contingency business interruption arising from notifiable diseases, such as Coronavirus, where their premises have been contaminated, but this is unusual and is not what these policies are typically designed to cover.
  • Insurance policies are tailored to the needs of the individual business. It is not a one size fits all approach, as the insurance needs of no two businesses are the same.
  • Standard commercial insurance policies provide cover against a wide range of risks, including damage caused by fire, flood, losses by theft, accidents involving employees and the need for temporary trading premises in certain circumstances (following damage that makes it impossible to continue trading at the existing premises e.g. due to a severe flood or fire).

Business Interruption

What is business interruption insurance?

  • Business interruption insurance covers a business for loss of income during periods when they cannot carry out business as usual due to damage caused by a specific set of perils that will be specified in the policy. It aims to replace certain losses sustained by the business during the period of the disruption. These perils are typically damage to the premises caused by incidents such as a fire, flooding or other physical damage.
  • The insurance may compensate the business for any increased running costs and/or shortfall in profits as the result of the event, up to a certain limit that is set out in the policy.

How do businesses purchase business interruption cover?

  • Business interruption insurance is usually offered as an optional extra to business insurance packages, which combine a number of different policies under one premium. It can also be offered as an optional extra to buildings and contents insurance policies in some cases. Most businesses purchase a package of insurance from a broker who will work with them to ensure that they have the appropriate cover for their needs.

What do business interruption policies generally cover?

  • Most policies will provide cover if the premises or equipment are damaged by a named peril, such as a fire, flood or storm, and also often for the breakdown of essential equipment.
  • Some policies may also cover business interruption as a result of people not being able to access the business due to a specific circumstances (such as the police cordoning off an area due to an event such as terrorism, a fire, or the risk of a collapsing building etc). In many cases this is known as ‘restricted access’ cover or ‘non-damage business interruption’ cover and is usually an add on to a standard policy that can cost more.

Does standard business interruption insurance provide cover for businesses who are not able to operate due to the effects of Covid-19?

  • Standard business insurance policies are designed and priced to cover standard risks and are therefore very unlikely to provide cover for the effects of global pandemics like Covid-19. This includes forced closure by the authorities. Businesses may have chosen to purchase cover that will specifically provide for business interruption arising from notifiable or infectious diseases. For certain notifiable disease extensions, cover may apply if other policy conditions are met. However, this type of extension is not commonly included as standard. Furthermore, the likely costs to businesses of cover that would include more unusual risks – such as those posed by new diseases – would be prohibitive.

Does a ‘notifiable disease’ extension to business interruption cover my business for Covid-19?

  • Most notifiable disease extensions cover specific diseases that will be named in the cover. These are diseases that are well known and understood. If the policy does not allow for all human infectious diseases, then cover is unlikely to apply.
  • Some notifiable disease extensions are more general and do not specify certain diseases. In these cases, business interruption cover for Covid-19 may apply if Covid-19 is present at the premises and all policy conditions are met.
  • If you are unsure about what your policy covers your business for, check with the broker you purchased the policy from or your insurer if you purchased it directly.

Are there any other extensions to business interruption that may provide cover?

  • Some coverage may exist if the business has purchased a ‘non-damage, denial of access’ extension to a business interruption policy. Again, purchase of these extensions tends to be rare and this is not generally covered under standard business interruption policies.
  • Generally, ‘denial of access’ cover applies to cordoned off areas and loss of trade resulting from a denial of access to the premises (e.g. as a result of a police cordon). If a business is forced to close or is told to close by an appropriate authority or is cordoned off, this could trigger a claim under a ‘non-damage, denial of access’ business interruption extension if the infectious disease cover is unspecified or if it includes Covid-19.

Other Business Issues:

Do I need to continue to make regular visits to my unoccupied business premises if it is against government guidance?

  • Given the Government guidance to avoid non-essential travel during the lockdown period, commercial insurers are keen to take practical steps to support customers, therefore most insurers have waived the requirement for individuals to check on their temporarily unoccupied SME business premises regularly if they are unable to do so.
  • This is as long as business owners have followed the risk management advice provided by their insurer and have taken reasonable endeavours to ensure the premises are suitably secure. Some insurers will require cases to be referred before agreeing, as this relaxation may not be appropriate for higher hazard risks.
  • It is worth being aware that unoccupied premises present an increased risk of damage, and for those larger or higher risk commercial premises (including but not limited to warehouses, those with hazardous materials, those with high target stock values and significant electronic equipment, those with significant renovations impacting the security) they will therefore require continued monitoring. Those with larger or higher risk premises should discuss the appropriate arrangements for the property being unoccupied with their insurer, who will work with you to ensure suitable action is taken. Insurers will try and be as flexible as possible in these circumstances.
  • Many activities are still allowed to be completed, as set out by the Security Industry Authority, who clarify that “Roles essential to supporting law and order, with the potential to reduce demand on policing, also meet the critical worker definition. This would include, amongst other areas, the guarding of empty or closed commercial, retail or office premises; the monitoring of similar through CCTV or other remote means; and the provision of alarm response centres including mobile units. If a physical presence is required then you should seek to minimise the number of staff deployed to the lowest safe level and ensure social distancing is applied.”

If my business isn’t able to operate because of COVID-19, should I just cancel my insurance policy?

 Business insurance helps to protect business owners and independent professionals against everyday risks, such as accidents in the workplace and associated public liability, stock or premises damage, legal costs and cyber-attacks. There are also some types of insurance that a business is legally obliged to have, such as employer’s liability and commercial motor insurance.

 Even in a time when a business is unable to operate as usual due to the impacts of COVID-19, it’s important that businesses remain covered for standard risks, many of which may be more likely when the property is unoccupied, such as vandalism of the property, theft of stock or equipment, or even loss of information or damage to IT systems and networks. 

 Every day insurers pay out £22 million to help firms cope with these unwelcome events. It would be a terrible outcome for a business without adequate insurance cover to experience significant damage whilst temporarily closed, which would delay their ability to get back up and running once permitted to do so.

Do cyber insurance policies cover working from home/remote working and any particular cyber incidents which may arise from this situation either through the actions of individuals e.g. phishing emails, inadvertent data leak?

  • In general, cover provided by cyber insurance policies will be unaffected and policies will cover working from home/remote working. Cyber incidents such as phishing emails or inadvertent data leak will continue to be covered as normal. Some insurers may require their policyholders to notify them, so it is prudent to contact your insurance provider directly to check your cyber insurance cover is still adequate.
  • Businesses should continue to follow the advice produced by the National Cyber Security Centre on secure home working to ensure cyber security remains at a high level and IT systems are protected during these difficult times.

https://www.abi.org.uk/products-and-issues/topics-and-issues/coronavirus-hub/business-insurance/

6 tips for cash flow management during the coronavirus crisis

As many small businesses shut up shop or adopt new ways of working during the coronavirus pandemic, many are struggling to grasp the package of support measures that had been made available by chancellor, Rishi Sunak.

At the same time as coming to terms with the support being made available to them, many small businesses could be forced to make difficult decisions in the coming weeks. Depending on their financial position, some small businesses could start to experience cash flow difficulties very quickly and they could be forced to lay off some or all of their workforce as a result.

Before taking such decisions, business owners should seek advice, if only to ensure that they have done everything they can to improve their cash position and to ensure they take the right decisions at the right time.

Time to pay arrangements have been announced for all businesses and self-employed workers that might be struggling to pay their tax returns in the coming months. While further guidance from HMRC is still awaited, there are steps that businesses and individuals can take to improve their chances of securing an option to defer payments. For example, they should ensure they can provide accurate cash flow forecasts, along with a statement of all assets and liabilities. It is also important to ensure any outstanding returns are paid and up to date.

Prepare your cash flow before seeking government support

To assist business owners in preparing to make full use of the package of support available to them, here are some steps they can take immediately.

See the real cash picture

To access time to pay arrangements as well as other grants and loans being made available, businesses will need to demonstrate that they have an accurate understanding of their current cash position and how it might change in the future.

This involves cash flow forecasting. It’s not enough to know operating margins, you need to know exactly how much cash you will have left at the end of the month. This is particularly important for businesses that may have taken chosen to defer payments such as tax or rent, resulting in large liabilities being due at unusual times of the year.

Make sure there is cash in the bank

It sounds simple, but it makes sense to ensure bank accounts have sufficient liquidity and ensure there is an overdraft facility in place. As well as focusing on debt management, it might be possible to sell unwanted assets to top up cash reserves. Invoices should also be issued for any work already completed.

Turn orders into cash

In the current climate, it makes sense to consider whether future sales should be covered by a deposit or payment in advance. Business owners should undertake a review of existing customer orders and identify those that can be converted to cash in the quickest timeframe, prioritising those with the highest value. Keep a close eye on the order book and be realistic about which are likely to be fulfilled and which are not.

Stay close to customers and suppliers

During any crisis situation it is especially important to stay close to customers and suppliers. This will give you better visibility of how the bank balance might look in three months’ time and it also gives the business a chance to negotiate payment terms and collaborate to share the burden of any additional costs where appropriate.

Keep the cash position of the business under review

As we have seen with the spread of the coronavirus, crisis situations can evolve quickly and business owners have to make fast, well-informed decisions. To ensure they are able to do this, it is important to review cash flow forecasts regularly and discuss appropriate reactive plans.

Capacity checking

For businesses that are practising remote working, it is important to ensure workers have access to the technologies and equipment they need. However, it is also important to have regular check-ins to keep workers engaged and motivated while monitoring workloads. This helps to identify if the Job Retention Scheme has become a relevant consideration.

https://smallbusiness.co.uk/6-tips-for-cash-flow-management-during-the-coronavirus-crisis-2550012/

Councils given greater financial relief against cash flow pressures

New measures to help ease immediate financial pressures faced by councils in England due to the coronavirus outbreak have been announced by the government today (16 April 2020).

Councils will be allowed to defer £2.6 billion in business rates payments to central government, and £850 million in social care grants will be paid up front this month in a move aimed at helping to ease immediate pressures on local authority cash flows.

Councils are doing crucial work to vulnerable people and the wider communities get through this crisis. This includes delivering essential supplies to the vulnerable, paying out financial relief to local businesses and get rough sleepers into accommodation. The government wants to ensure that they have the support they need at this unprecedented time.

Local Government Secretary Rt Hon Robert Jenrick MP said: 

Whether it be caring for the elderly, providing outpatient services, councils are providing vital support to the most vulnerable people in our society throughout this pandemic.

I am determined councils get the support they need which is why I am taking action to ease some of the immediate financial pressures they face in responding to coronavirus, helping to protect the NHS and save lives.

These new measures mean councils will be able to defer £2.6 billion of payments they are due to make to central government over the next 3 months as part of the business rates retention scheme.

Additionally, the government will bring forward care grant payments to councils worth £850 million for both children and adults. These will now all be paid this month, rather than monthly in April, May and June, and will help provide immediate support for core frontline social care services.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/councils-given-greater-financial-relief-against-cash-flow-pressures

Chancellor expands loan scheme for large businesses

A government-backed loan scheme for large businesses affected by coronavirus has been expanded to cover all viable firms, the Chancellor announced today.

Outlining further details of the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loans Scheme (CLBILS) ahead of its launch on Monday, Rishi Sunak said all firms with a turnover of more than £45 million will now be able to apply for up to £25 million of finance, and up to £50 million for firms with a turnover of more than £250 million.

Business with turnovers of more than £500 million were originally not eligible for the scheme, which is being set up to help firms who do not qualify for the existing Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme – for small and medium sized businesses - and the Bank of England Covid Corporate Financing Facility – for investment grade companies. The move, which comes after extensive consultation with businesses, will ensure even more firms are able to benefit from government support.

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

I want to ensure that no viable business slips through our safety net of support as we help protect jobs and the economy. That is why we are expanding this generous scheme for larger firms.

This is a national effort and we’ll continue to work with the financial services sector to ensure that our £330 billion of government support, through loans and guarantees, reaches as many businesses in need as possible.

The Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said:

Coronavirus has struck a heavy blow against businesses of all sizes across the UK. Expanding this scheme will provide larger firms with the support they need during the pandemic, helping to provide job security to thousands of people and protect our economy.

The government will provide lenders with a guarantee of 80% on each loan to give lenders further confidence in continuing to provide finance.

The scheme will be available through a series of accredited lenders, which will be listed on the British Business Bank website.

This support complements the unprecedented help available for businesses large and small, including CBILS, CCCFF, tax deferrals, the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme, cash grants for small businesses, and covering the cost of statutory sick pay.

The government recognises many start up and early stage companies are facing challenges and are working with industry to assess these and consider further ways to offer support.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/chancellor-expands-loan-scheme-for-large-businesses


16/04/2020

Lender Support for those affected by Coronavirus

This list is for current borrowers looking to discuss their current circumstances - please only use the phone numbers for these purposes to allow support to be given to those who require it most.

High Street Banks

Barclays - Business Banking clients should call 0800 197 1086, (8am to 8pm Monday to Friday) or alternatively contact their Relationship Manager direct. Barclays are also organising calls and WebEx’s for specific topics around supply chain, etc - current borrowers will be contacted directly with regard to this. Full guidance is HERE and Barclays are requesting you only call them to discuss immediate issues with your finances allowing them to focus on helping those in the most vulnerable situations

Clydesdale - Current borrowers should have been contacted by the Business Relationship Manager and can also call 0800 756 0800 or mail businessdirect@clydesdalebank.co.uk. Full guidance is HERE and they also have a FAQ page HERE.

HSBC - HSBC has allocated £5bn to help businesses and their full coronavirus guidance is HERE. Current borrowers with concerns should contact 08000 121614, (9am to 5pm Monday to Friday)

Lloyds - Full details of their £2bn support package are available HERE and current borrowers should contact their Relationship Manager or the Client Service Team on 0345 601 5585

NatWest / RBS - NatWest has pledged £5bn of working capital support for SMEs during the coronavirus outbreak and details are available HERE. Current borrowers should speak to their Relationship Manager or call 0345 711 4477.

Santander - Santander has told us that their business relationship team have already contacted the majority of their customers and are offering support to manage cash flow and supply chain issues. They also have a dedicated helpline on 0800 0156 382.

Challenger Banks

Aldermore - Aldermore has announced a forbearance policy and are offering repayment holidays of up to 3 months that will not affect businesses’ credit rating - full details HERE. Borrowers should contact their Relationship Manager or call 0161 238 5004 to discuss their individual situation. They can also email commercialportfolioteam@aldermore.co.uk.

Atom Bank - Current customers should call 0330 053 6067.

Cynergy Bank - Cynergy have informed us that they are making direct contact with all their current customers and discussing bespoke support as required. Any borrower who has not yet had contact should call their Relationship Manager or 0345 850 5555, (8am to 6pm Monday to Friday). A support page is also available HERE.

Handelsbanken - Current borrowers should have been contacted by their Relationship Manager - those who have not been contacted can call 0800 470 8000.

Metro Bank - Current borrowers should have been contacted by their Relationship Manager and a support page is available HERE.

Shawbrook - Customers should call 0330 123 4521 or email cm.broker@shawbrook.co.uk and a support page is available HERE.

Thincats - Thincats are making direct contact with all their current lenders and offering bespoke support as required. Any borrower who has not yet had contact should call their Relationship Manager.

Wesleyan - Borrowers should contact their Relationship Manager and if they are not able to contact them / not aware of who they are they should contact Sarah Jarvis on 020 8254 1872 or 07795 153014. Borrowers should have their business name, Account Number (found on bank statements as the Direct Debit reference), and be able to discuss their request and reasons behind it.

Peer to Peer Cashflow Lenders

Crowd2Fund - Crowd2Fund have contacted us to confirm that businesses should keep making payments to protect their “perfect repayment status”. Support is available through the CBILS scheme. For borrowers who are able to demonstrate a reduction in turnover, owing directly to the COVID-19 situation, that they are able to demonstrate through Management Accounts and other performance indicators, Crowd2Fund may be able to help by restructuring loans to a flexible repayment schedule - via their 'Revenue Loan' product.

ESME - Borrowers with repayments issues should call the customer care team on 0203 936 4800 or email accountsteam@esmeloans.com.

Funding Circle - Existing borrowers will have received direct communication from Funding Circle already. If you want to discuss your loan please call 0800 048 2467 (option 1, then option 4 to get to the customer solutions team). Borrowers can also email customersolutions@fundingcircle.com 

Lending Crowd - Fully focused on supporting existing clients. Current borrowers should contact 0131 564 1600 to discuss their circumstances.

Alternative Lenders

365 Business Finance - Borrowers should call 0207 1000 365.

FSE Group have contacted us to confirm they are still lending and have almost £200m to invest. Borrowers should contact Julie.silvester@thefsegroup.com 

Iwoca - Have a Coronavirus support page HERE and current borrowers wanting to talk through options should speak to their account manager or call 0203 397 3375. Iwoca are also sending out a regular communication to borrowers as events develop. 

Just Cashflow - Current borrowers should call 0141 301 1022 or email customercare@just-cashflow.com. When calling please make sure you have your Account Number to hand and as much information as possible to help support your case. 

Nucleus Finance - Existing borrowers should email - collections@nucleus-cf.co.uk or call 020 7839 1980. Please have the name of the business and reference number to hand when you call.

YouLend - Current borrowers should call 0845 600 3573

Property and Bridging Lenders

4syte - Existing borrowers should call 01245 377032 or email proposals@4syte.co.uk to discuss their loan. 4Syte recommend that borrowers contacting them have detail to hand in terms of what they are asking for in terms of assistance and details of their future plans.

Aldermore Property Development Finance - Aldermore have announced a forbearance policy and are offering repayment holidays of up to 3 months that will not affect businesses’ credit rating - full details HERE. Property Borrowers should contact their Relationship Manager or email propdevcrm@aldermore.co.uk.

Alternative Bridging Corporation - Borrowers should direct any questions or queries to their BDM. If they are not able to make contact they should contact Simon Michael via email on Simon.Michael@alternativebridging.co.uk or call on 0208 349 5190.

Gemini Finance - Existing borrowers should speak to their Relationship Manager or alternatively call Matt on 01704 871818 or email matt@geminifinance.com.

MTF - Current borrowers should contact - enquiries@mt-finance.com or call 0203 051 2331to speak with a member of their Property team.

Octane - Borrowers should contact their Relationship Manager directly in the first instance. Borrowers who are unable to do so or who are not aware of who their Relationship Manager is should call 0345 222 9009.

Ortus - Ortus have contacted all of their current borrowers directly. Anyone who has not been contacted should call 020 3397 0237.

Paragon - Paragon has a dedicated support page HERE. Buy to let customers needing financial help should call 0345 849 4080. Those with second charge mortgages should call 0345 149 7751.

Precise Mortgages - Customers wishing to discuss their situation should call 0800 781 8558. If you would prefer to be called back please email your mortgage account number to collectionsenquiries@precisemortgages.co.uk and give times they are available to talk. A dedicated page is also available HERE. Paragon have told us that they are offering a number of support options including payment holidays and the account status reported on credit files will be recorded as either ‘0’ or ‘U’. This classification seeks to preserve the borrowers' credit record during the payment holiday period.

Shawbrook - Clients with Buy-to-Let, Bridging or Commercial Investment Loans should call 0330 123 4521 or email cm.broker@shawbrook.co.uk. Clients with Second Charge Mortgages should call 0345 600 7681 or email rm.sales@shawbrook.co.uk.

TFG Capital - Borrowers should direct all queries to kieran@tfgcapital.co.uk or call 01302 965594.

Invoice Finance / Short-term Lenders

Aldermore Invoice Finance - Invoice Finance orrowers should contact their Relationship Manager or call 0333 363 5137. They can also email aifdirect@aldermore.co.uk.Aldermore has announced a forbearance policy and are offering repayment holidays of up to 3 months that will not affect businesses’ credit rating - full details HERE

Lloyds Invoice Finance - No arrangement fees for new or increased invoice discounting and finance facilities. Borrowers should contact their normal Relationship Manager.

Skipton Business Finance - Borrowers should have been contacted by their Relationship Manager and a help page is available HERE.

Asset Finance Lenders

Aldermore Asset Finance - Asset Finance borrowers should contact their Relationship Manager or call 01189 55 6675 to discuss a repayment holidays of up to 3 months that will not affect their businesses’ credit rating - full details HERE

Armada Asset Finance - Borrowers should call 01392 879599.

Corporate Asset Solutions - Payment holiday requests should be directed to collections@corporateasset.co.uk.

Metro Bank Asset Finance - Borrowers should call the Guildford office on 01483 663 679.

OnePM - Borrowers should call 01225 474 230 (Option 2), or email customerservice@onepmfinance.co.uk.

Paragon Asset Finance - Any request for a payment holiday should be sent to Recoveries@paragonbank.co.uk. Paragon have told us they aim to reply within 2- 3 working days and info borrowers could provide all the following in one email it will speed up the process: Details on current circumstances along with Customer name, Agreement number(s), current and forecast Management Information (smaller firms that do not produce Management Information should provide 3 months' bank statements). Notes on whether the assets are being stood down or still being utilised by the business as well as updated Contingency Plans explaining what the impact to the business is, how they will deal with it other than with Paragon’s assistance will also be required. Finally, customers should also state that they authorise Paragon to carry out a new company search.

Shawbrook Asset Finance - Shawbrook are actively looking to support existing clients during this period and requests should be made directly to your Relationship Manager. Requests for payment holidays/reductions relating to coronavirus will require the following pieces of information: Forecasts for the requested length of the payment reduction (ie if you are asking for a 3-month payment reduction, Shawbrook will require financial forecasts for that 3-month period), up-to-date financials and bank statements, details of any insurance cover and a list of your other funders and what they have agreed to.

Wesleyan Asset Finance - Customers seeking forbearance should contact the Bank’s Collections Department directly via email bank.collections@wesleyan.co.uk. Please have your Agreement number, Business name and details and as much information to hand about your current circumstances. Wesleyan will respond to the person who emails in and customers should not cancel their direct debits as Wesleyan will take responsibility for re-scheduling agreements.

Ultimate Asset Finance - Current borrowers should call Colin Chastey on 01455 886 650 or email either cchastey@ultimateassetfinance.co.uk Or uafcollections@ultimatefinance.co.uk.

Please speak with your adviser who will help support you on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

https://rangewell.com/article/lender-support-article-for-those-affected-by-coronavirus

Full list of COVID Loan / CBILS Providers and their criteria

This comprehensive list of all CBILS Lenders includes answers to the following questions:

  • What their lending criteria are 
  • What guarantees they are requesting
  • How individual businesses can apply
  • Their expected timescales and credit processes
  • How they are prioritising lending (eg. focusing on current business borrowers or willing to talk to new borrowers)

Abn Amro Commercial Finance - No direct page for borrowers to apply to as yet but brief details can be found HERE. ABN AMRO Commercial Finance representative has told us that they will not be offering the CBILS as a standalone product. The scheme will only be available alongside their Receivables Finance offering.

Arkle Finance - A full application form is available HERE and a brief overview of the scheme is available HERE. Arkle are Asset Finance lenders and are offering their Hire Purchase & Finance Lease products under the scheme for borrowers to purchase new equipment for their Business (refinance of current assets may also be considered by exception). Arkle are offering loans of between £5,000 - £500,000+VAT over 2-5 years.

ART Business Loans - No direct page for applications at the moment but they have provided useful information on how to contact them HERE. Loan support will only available across the West Midlands, Herefordshire, Shropshire, Worcestershire and Warwickshire.

ASK IF Inclusive Finance - You can start your enquiry HERE. ASK IF can offer CBILS loans from £10,000 up to £60,000. 

Bank of Ireland UK - Bank of Ireland don’t currently have a direct page to apply for CBILS but they do have general guidance HERE and an infographic HERE. They tell us they will be offering Term Loans and Revolving Credit Facilities but it appears this will only be in Northern Ireland. 

Bank of Scotland - you can apply directly for CBILS HERE. They have also provided a full list of eligible and excluded sectors HERE. You can also take a look at the additional eligibility criteria.

BCRS Business Loans - apply for the scheme directly HERE. BCRS advise that they can only support businesses based in the West Midlands.

British Enterprise Fund - you can register to apply for CBILS through British Enterprise Fund HERE. In addition to CBILS, they are also offering Working Capital Loans and are actively supporting new applications for Start-up Loans. You can find out more HERE. They are offering loans up to £25,000.

Calverton Finance - you can apply for the scheme directly HERE. However, you must also request additional funding from Calverton and they will not be offering CBILS as a standalone product.

Chamber Acorn Fund - We have been informed that although they are a partner of the CBIL programme, at this time they don't have sufficient capital in order to participate in the scheme.

Clydesdale - you can apply for CBILS through Clydesdale HERE. If you need to speak to the team about a new or existing application, you can contact them on 0800 032 3971.

Compass Business Finance - If you are a print, packaging or engineering company, you can apply to the scheme via Compass directly HERE.

County Finance Group - there is no option currently to submit an application via the website, however, you can request a call back HERE or make an enquiry HERE. Note that they are quite a small lender and they state “We have been inundated with calls in respect of the CBILS facility and we are trying our best to speak and discuss all of the enquiries that are coming in.”

Coventry & Warwickshire Reinvestment Trust - only accepting applications for the scheme from businesses based in Coventry and Warwickshire. You are unable currently to apply directly online, but you can use the general contact form to get in touch with someone HERE

Danske Bank - There is currently no way to apply directly on the website at this time. They recommend that you contact your Relationship Manager suggesting that they will be prioritising current customers.

DSL Business Finance - you can request an action pack HERE. Please note that only Scottish businesses will be eligible.

Enterprise Answers - you cannot currently apply directly online, nor is there any specific guidance on CBILS, but you can contact them on 01768 867118 or email enquiries@enterpriseanswers.co.uk. It is worth noting that normal applications require a business plan, financial forecasts, annual and Management accounts.

Finance for Enterprise - helping businesses across South Yorkshire, North Midlands and Mid/North Lincolnshire and, although there is nothing specific on their website on CBILS, you can contact them on their generic form HERE.

First Enterprise - nothing up yet but details of their offering will be on their website soon HERE.

GC Business Finance - you can apply directly on their website HERE. GCBF can support North West - based businesses with loans from £25,000 up to £100,000. 

Genesis Asset Finance - offering Asset Refinance facilities to both new and existing customers. They are also able to offer support to businesses wishing to acquire additional equipment through CBILS in the form of Hire Purchase and Finance Leasing. They are also offering a ‘Refinance Rewrite’ facility to existing customers only. To find out more about any of their offers, contact them on 0161 371 1160. They currently do not have any facility to apply directly online. 

Haydock Finance - only dealing with the Asset Finance part of CBILS. However, you need to contact an Asset Finance broker and not Haydock Finance directly as their business model does not support this.

Hitachi Capital UK - there is nothing currently on the website specifically about CBILS but this is subject to change. However, you can contact them directly HERE to make an enquiry.

HSBC - existing customers can log in to their internet banking account, otherwise all customers can contact HSBC HERE. Term Loans will be part of HSBC’s offering for CBILS.

Let’s Do Business Group - supporting small businesses in Essex, Sussex, Surrey, Suffolk and Ken only to access CBILS if their own bank can’t help in the first instance. You can apply directly HERE.

Lloyds Bank - business banking customers can directly apply for the scheme HERE or contact their dedicated Relationship Manager. Currently for existing clients only.

Merseyside Special Investment Fund - there is currently nothing about CBILS on their website but you can contact them on their general form HERE.

Metro Bank - they will be adding ways to apply to their website in the coming days but their guidance on those affected and seeking help with CBILS can be found HERE

NatWest / RBS - Small business loans from £1,000 up to £50,000 can apply directly to the scheme via the website HERE. Loans up to £5m are available and should be discussed with your Relationship Manager. Please note, a personal, director or member’s guarantee may be required and unfortunately, they will NOT consider Coutt’s clients as Coutts are trying to get onto the CBILS scheme themselves. We have been told that Natwest are asking businesses to apply to their current lender first and only if their lender formally rejects them will they consider their application. They will also want to know why the current lender has rejected the application. 

Newable - Loan amounts remain from £26,000 up to £150,000 but you should follow the CBILS guidelines in terms of wage bills and turnover limits. Rangewell can submit your application in the normal manner and we will ensure Newable is aware your application is part of CBILS because your business has been negatively impacted by the disruption caused by COVID-19.

Santander - customers are being advised to speak to their Relationship Managers. Businesses with up to two directors, owners or partners can apply directly online HERE for a business overdraft from £500 up to £25,000.

Secure Trust Bank - Nothing specific to CBILS on the website yet but new customer applications are on hold. 

Skipton Business Finance - will only run CBILS alongside Invoice Finance facilities and not as standalone products. You must be B2B but can submit an enquiry directly on the website HERE

SWIG Finance - only working with businesses based in the South West. You can apply for loans up to £100,000 and can apply directly HERE.

RBS - see NatWest / RBS also. You can apply directly for an RBS Small Business loan HERE.

TSB - are currently implementing CBILS and will have something on their website in the coming days.

UKSE - a subsidiary of TATA Steel and offering Term Loans. You can contact their local office or begin an application with their Eligibility Checker HERE

Ulster Bank - you can apply directly for lending through their normal application channels HERE.

https://rangewell.com/article/full-list-of-covid-loan-cbils-providers-and-their-criteria

10 tips to help if you and your team are worried about coronavirus

The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak means that life is changing for all of us for a while. It may cause you to feel anxious, stressed, worried, sad, bored, lonely or frustrated.

It's important to remember it is OK to feel this way and that everyone reacts differently. Remember, this situation is temporary and, for most of us, these difficult feelings will pass.

There are some simple things you can do to help you take care of your mental health and wellbeing during times of uncertainty. Doing so will help you think clearly, and make sure you are able to look after yourself and those you care about.

Here are 10 ways you can help improve your mental health and wellbeing if you are worried or anxious about the coronavirus outbreak. For specific tips and advice while staying at home, read Every Mind Matters advice on maintaining your mental wellbeing while staying at home.

It is important to follow the latest official guidance on staying at home and away from others to keep everyone safe.

  1. Stay connected with people

Maintaining healthy relationships with people we trust is important for our mental wellbeing, so think about how you can stay in touch with friends and family while needing to stay at home.

You could try phone calls, video calls or social media instead of meeting in person – whether it's with people you normally see often or connecting with old friends.

  1. Talk about your worries

It's normal to feel a bit worried, scared or helpless about the current situation. Remember: it is OK to share your concerns with others you trust – and doing so may help them too.

If you cannot speak to someone you know or if doing so has not helped, there are plenty of helplines you can try instead.

  1. Support and help others

Helping someone else can benefit you as well as them, so try to be a little more understanding of other people's concerns, worries or behaviours at this time.

Try to think of things you can do to help those around you. Is there a friend or family member nearby you could message? Are there any community groups you could join to support others locally?

Remember, it is important to do this in line with official coronavirus guidance to keep everyone safe.

  1. Feel prepared

Working through the implications of staying at home should help you feel more prepared and less concerned. Think through a normal week: how will it be affected and what do you need to do to solve any problems?

If you have not already, you might want to talk with your employer, understand your sick pay and benefits rights, and get hold of some essentials for while you are at home.

You could also think about who you can get help from locally – as well as people you know, lots of local and community help groups are being set up. Try to remember this disruption should only be temporary.

  1. Look after your body

Our physical health has a big impact on how we feel. At times like these, it can be easy to fall into unhealthy patterns of behaviour that end up making you feel worse.

Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, drink enough water and exercise regularly. Avoid smoking or drugs, and try not to drink too much alcohol.

You can leave your house, alone or with members of your household, for 1 form of exercise a day – like a walk, run or bike ride. But make you keep a safe 2-metre distance from others. Or you could try one of the easy 10-minute home workouts.

  1. Stick to the facts

Find a credible source you can trust – such as GOV.UK or the NHS website – and fact-check information you get from newsfeeds, social media or other people.

You could also use the GOV.UK Coronavirus Information Service on WhatsApp. This automated chatbot covers the most common questions about coronavirus. Message the coronavirus chatbot to get started.

Think about how possibly inaccurate information could affect others too. Try not to share information without fact-checking against credible sources.

You might also want to consider limiting the time you spend watching, reading or listening to coverage of the outbreak, including on social media, and think about turning off breaking-news alerts on your phone.

You could set yourself a specific time to read updates or limit yourself to a couple of checks a day.

  1. Stay on top of difficult feelings

Concern about the coronavirus outbreak is perfectly normal. However, some people may experience intense anxiety that can affect their daily life.

Try to focus on the things you can control, such as your behaviour, who you speak to, and where and how often you get information.

It's fine to acknowledge that some things are outside of your control, but if constant thoughts about coronavirus are making you feel anxious or overwhelmed, try some ideas to help manage your anxiety or listening to an audio guide.

  1. Do things you enjoy

If we are feeling worried, anxious or low, we might stop doing things we usually enjoy. Focusing on your favourite hobby, relaxing indoors or connecting with others can help with anxious thoughts and feelings.

If you cannot do the things you normally enjoy because you are staying at home, think about how you could adapt them, or try something new.

There are lots of free tutorials and courses online, and people are coming up with inventive new ways to do things, like hosting online pub quizzes and music concerts.

  1. Focus on the present

Focusing on the present, rather than worrying about the future, can help with difficult emotions and improve our wellbeing. Relaxation techniques can also help some people deal with feelings of anxiety, or you could try the mindful breathing video.

  1. Look after your sleep

Good-quality sleep makes a big difference to how we feel mentally and physically, so it is important to get enough.

Try to maintain regular sleeping patterns and keep up good sleep hygiene practices – like avoiding screens before bed, cutting back on caffeine and creating a restful environment. See Every Mind Matters sleep page for more advice.

Further support and advice

There are plenty of things you can do and places to get more help and support if you are struggling with your mental health. Every Mind Matters pages on stressanxietysleep and low mood have lots more tips and specific advice. If you are a parent or caregiver for a child or young person, Young Minds has guidance on talking to your child about coronavirus.

The NHS mental health and wellbeing advice pages also have a self-assessment, as well as audio guides and other tools you can use while staying at home.

We also have guidance and information to help others if someone you know is struggling with their mental health.

Remember, it is quite common to experience short-lived physical symptoms when you are low or anxious. Some of these, like feeling hot or short of breath, could be confused with symptoms of coronavirus.

If this happens, try to distract yourself. When you feel less anxious, see if you still have the symptoms that worried you. If you are still concerned, visit the NHS website.

https://www.nhs.uk/oneyou/every-mind-matters/coronavirus-covid-19-anxiety-tips/

Furlough start date extended to 19 March

The government has extended the start date for eligibility for furlough to 19 March from original 28 February meaning 200,000 more people can benefit.

Thousands more employees will able to receive support through the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS) as a result. The government also confirmed that the scheme is expected to be fully operational next week with the online portal due to go live on 20 April to allow businesses to start filing their returns before the crucial PAYE payroll runs.

Under the scheme announced by Chancellor Rishi Sunak on 23 March, employers can claim a grant covering 80% of the wages for a furloughed employee, subject to a cap of £2,500 a month.

BUT the employee MUST have also been on an RTI submitted to HMRC by 19th March.

To qualify and to protect against fraudulent claims, individuals originally had to be employed on 28 February 2020.

But following a review of the delivery system and to ensure the scheme helps as many people as possible, new guidance published today has confirmed the eligibility date has been extended to 19 March 2020– the day before the scheme was announced. Employers can claim for furloughed employees that were employed and on their PAYE payroll on or before 19 March 2020.

This means that the employee must have been notified to HMRC through an RTI submission notifying payment in respect of that employee on or before 19 March 2020.

This change makes the scheme more generous while keeping the substantial fraud risks under control and is expected to benefit over 200,000 employees.

Source: Accountancy Daily.

Additional content: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52279455

Should a manufacturer stay open?

On April 8, the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, Alok Sharma clarified in his letter to the industry that there is no restriction on manufacturing continuing during the COVID-19 outbreak.

However, manufacturers should take the below into consideration:

  1. If your business has customer demand for product (the factory is not manufacturing for stock), then it should remain open.
  2. If there is no demand, production should stop
  3. If there is limited demand, manufacturers can consider bringing forward the annual maintenance shutdown periods to ensure manufacturing at full capacity once the outbreak is over

Guidance for manufacturers who remain operational: https://www.businessgrowthhub.com/coronavirus/resources/2020/04/coronavirus-support-for-businesses-guidance-for-manufacturers


15/04/2020

Job Retention Scheme OPEN next week

HMRC has been working at pace to deliver the service that will allow you to make a claim for the employees you have furloughed under the governments Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme. 

When will the service be open?

The service will be open from Monday 20th April 2020.

How do I make the claim?

The service will be an online portal system. No claims will be accepted over the phone. The portal will be open 24/7.

What information will be required to process the claim?

You will need to provide:

  • Name, Employee Number and NI Number of each of the furloughed employees.
  • The total amount being claimed for all employees and the total furlough period.
  • Bank account details for the money to be deposited into.
  • Contact details for any queries to be directed to.
  • Company UTR or CRN.

Will my Payroll provider be able to process this claim on my behalf?

Your Payroll provider will be able to do this, so long as you have given them explicit authority to act on your behalf. If you haven’t already done so, they will ask you to sign a ’64-8’ form. 

If Hallidays currently processes your payroll, it is likely that you have already completed this form and have given your permission, however, if not, someone will be touch, as and when you are ready to make a claim. Hallidays have taken the decision not to charge an additional fee for processing these claims on your behalf, as we appreciate that this is already a difficult financial time for you. If you are not a Hallidays client, you will need to contact your Payroll provider for more information.

Payroll Software providers will not be able to make claims on your behalf, as they are classed as ‘file only agents’ and will not be able access the service due to data protection reasons. 

How often will claims need to be submitted?

For weekly payrolls, these will need to be processed weekly, but they will also be paid out weekly.

All others will be processed monthly. For the 4-weekly and monthly payrolls, you can submit your claim 14 days before the end of the pay period. Which means that the money can be in your account before the wages are due to be paid, although this may not be the case for April, given that the scheme only opens on 20th April.

You will only be able to make one claim per pay period. Generally, payments will be made within 4-6 working days of submission of data.

Will HMRC be auditing or checking claims?

Concerns were raised around abuse of the system in relation to furloughed employees being required to carry on undertaking work. HMRC have set up a hotline for employees to report such behaviour. HMRC also confirmed that if there was evidence of a breach of the rules now, claims would simply not be paid out (this would really rely on a report from employees that the scheme was being abused).

In the future, there is the ability to check claims and HMRC may well look for evidence of employees continuing to work while furloughed.

Depending on the severity of an employer’s conduct, this could quite feasibly result in criminal proceedings being considered.

What next?

Full details of the scheme are expected to be publicly announced this week. It is unlikely that the details will differ from the above, however, if it does, we will certainly keep you updated.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk

Delaying import duty/VAT payments as a result of Covid-19

Many businesses that import goods into the UK from outside the EU operate deferment accounts, which allow payment of import VAT and duty to be delayed for 15 days after the month in which the goods are brought into the country.

See Gov.uk - How to set up a deferment account: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/setting-up-an-account-to-defer-duty-payments-when-you-import-goods

HMRC requires such accounts to be supported by a bank or insurance company guarantee. As payments to settle deferment accounts are not covered by the general deferral of VAT payments until 30 June, importers have been increasingly concerned that failure to abide by the terms of the account could mean that their account might be suspended and that HMRC may call on its guarantee to settle the unpaid duty. Considering the challenges faced by importers at this time, HMRC have stated:

“Duty deferment account holders who are experiencing severe financial difficulty as a result of coronavirus and who are unable to make payment of deferred customs duties and import VAT due on 15 April 2020 can contact HMRC for approval to enter into an extended period to make full or partial payment, without having their guarantee called upon or their deferment account suspended. The account holder should contact the Duty Deferment Office at 03000 594243 or by email cdoenquiries@hmrc.gov.uk or the COVID-19 helpline on 0800 024 1222. Account holders will be asked to provide an explanation of how coronavirus has impacted their business finances and cash flow.”

Duty Deferment account holders will be able to use their accounts during the extended payment period agreed unless they default on a subsequent payment in that period, in which case HMRC may consider suspending their account. The outstanding payment will not affect their duty deferment limit so they will not need to increase their guarantee to cover the outstanding payment. Where HMRC agree to an extended payment period, interest will not be charged on the outstanding payments provided they are paid in full by the agreed date.

Duty/import VAT payments not covered by a duty deferment account

Registered Importers who pay cash or an equivalent and are facing severe financial difficulties as a direct result of Covid-19 can contact HMRC to request an extension to the payment deadline at the time the payment is due. They will be asked to provide an explanation of how Covid-19 has impacted on their business finances. HMRC will consider this request and decide whether to agree an additional time to pay. The decision will be taken on a case-by-case basis and could be refused.

If the request is approved the conditions, including the length of time offered, will depend upon the importer’s individual circumstances and may require the holding of a guarantee for the period of the time extension. They do not offer this facility to non-registered importers. For further information, please contact the Customs Debt Policy inbox: custdebtrr.customspolicy@hmrc.gov.uk.

Advice to support mental health during coronavirus outbreak

People struggling with their mental health during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak will be offered additional online support and practical guidance to help them cope.

In recognition of the unprecedented challenges which the outbreak and extended periods of self-isolation can pose, Public Health England has published new online guidance setting out principles to follow to help people to manage their mental health during this difficult time, such as:

  • maintaining contact with friends and family via telephone and video calls, or social media
  • keeping a regular routine and sleeping pattern
  • focusing on a hobby or learning something new

Parents and carers will also benefit from tailored advice on how to support children and young people with stress during the coronavirus outbreak, which includes providing clear information, being aware of their own reactions and creating a new routine. 

Today’s guidance has been developed in partnership with leading mental health charities and clinically assured by the NHS. It also includes steps that those living with serious mental health problems can take, including seeking support from their mental health teams.

Their Royal Highnesses The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge said:

The last few weeks have been anxious and unsettling for everyone. We have to take time to support each other and find ways to look after our mental health. It is great to see the mental health sector working together with the NHS to help people keep on top of their mental well-being. By pulling together and taking simple steps each day, we can all be better prepared for the times ahead.

The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge have long been advocates for mental health, through their respective patronages and The Royal Foundation’s Heads Together campaign. In 2019, Their Royal Highnesses helped to launch Public Health England’s mental health platform, Every Mind Matters.

Minister for Mental Health Nadine Dorries said:

When I discovered I had coronavirus I felt anxious and scared.

For those who already suffer with anxiety or other mental health issues this may present new and difficult challenges.

It’s imperative that we stay home if we are to beat coronavirus and save lives. I know how important it is that people have support to look after their mental health and this guidance will be of huge value.

The government has also announced a £5 million grant for leading mental health charities, administered by Mind, to fund additional services for people struggling with their mental wellbeing during this time. This could include telephone and online support services for the most isolated and vulnerable in our communities.

Public Health England has updated its world-leading Every Mind Matters platform with specific advice on maintaining good mental wellbeing during the outbreak. People can also complete a ‘Mind Plan’, a quick and free tool that has already been completed over 1.8 million times. 

Yvonne Doyle, Medical Director at Public Health England, said:

During these challenging times, it is natural for all of us to feel worried or anxious, but there are things we can all do to help ourselves and others, to prevent these feelings from becoming more serious.

We should continue to check up on friends, family and neighbours by phone or online and pursue the activities we are able to do from home and in line with guidance. By adopting a new routine, setting goals, eating healthily and maintaining physical activity, we can stay in good mental health today and tomorrow.

The government and NHS England recognise that the mental health impacts of the coronavirus outbreak are significant and are working closely with mental health trusts to ensure those who need them have access to NHS mental health services.

This includes issuing guidance to trusts on staff training, prioritisation of services and how to maximise use of digital and virtual channels to keep delivering support to patients. NHS Mental Health providers are also establishing 24/7 helplines.

Mind will use their existing links with other charities, including grassroots, user-led organisations, to reach vulnerable groups who are at particular risk during this period. This is expected to include older adults, people with an underlying health condition and anyone experiencing unstable employment and housing conditions.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind and co-ordinating a group of mental health charities, said:

We are facing one of the toughest ever times for our mental wellbeing as a nation. It is absolutely vital that people pull together and do all they can to look after themselves and their loved ones, when we are all facing a huge amount of change and uncertainty. Reaching out to friends and family is critical, as well as paying attention to the impact our physical health can have on our mental health - from diet and exercise to getting enough natural light and a little fresh air.

Charities like Mind have a role to play in helping people cope not only with the initial emergency but coming to terms with how this will affect us well into the future. Whether we have an existing mental health problem or not, we are all going to need extra help to deal with the consequences of this unprecedented set of circumstances.

Claire Murdoch, NHS mental health director, said:

The NHS is stepping up to offer people help when and how they need it, including by phone, facetime, skype or digitally enabled therapy packages and we also have accelerated plans for crisis response service 24/7.

We are determined to respond to people’s needs during this challenging time and working with our partners across the health sector and in the community, NHS mental health services will be there through what is undoubtedly one of the greatest healthcare challenges the NHS has ever faced.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-advice-to-support-mental-health-during-coronavirus-outbreak

Greater Manchester LEP Approves £3m Funding For Local Businesses

The Greater Manchester LEP, working with the Growth Company, has unlocked an initial £3m package of urgently needed financial support for Greater Manchester businesses battling the impact of coronavirus.

And private sector investors were today urged to further boost the funding support available to struggling businesses in the region, working alongside the public sector to protect jobs.

Administered by GC Business Finance (GCBF), the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) for Greater Manchester is now ready to provide loans of between £5,000 and £250,000 to qualifying companies. It will be delivered by GCBF alongside the Government Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme.

The funding will bring vital additional capacity to existing Government schemes, meaning that more business in Greater Manchester will have access to the funding they need to meet the challenge of the Coronavirus outbreak. This Greater Manchester approach will help support SMEs that may struggle to secure finance support from their banks survive and grow.

The £3m funding was given emergency approval by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) and Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership (GM LEP), broadening funding eligibility and capacity to save jobs and businesses.

The funding provides immediate capital to meet the needs of Greater Manchester businesses who meet the GM CBILS lending criteria.

Investing alongside the Northern Powerhouse Investment Fund (NPIF) and the Start Up Loans Programme, this Greater Manchester funding builds on the loan funding available locally and is available immediately to respond to the acute challenges some SMEs in the city-region are currently facing.

It is a decisive response by Greater Manchester in immediately bolstering existing publicly backed funding already available and adding critical capacity to GCBF in helping more SMEs survive this crisis and protect jobs.

The Growth Company will work with potential private sector co-investment partners to enable vital funding to be made available to even more businesses.

The GMCA and LEP funding is part of a concerted effort across Greater Manchester to support businesses and jobs – including the #HereForBusiness and Employ GM campaigns – and will help to maximise the availability of CBILS funding to Greater Manchester businesses.

The Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme for Greater Manchester will provide vital immediate cashflow to businesses alongside the business grant funding that is already being administered by Local Authorities across Greater Manchester.

Mayor of Greater Manchester, Andy Burnham said: 

This is a fantastic example of Greater Manchester doing the right thing.

“By acting quickly to unlock vital loan support at a very difficult time, we are playing our part in minimising the economic impact of the coronavirus in our city-region.

“We will do everything we can to protect local businesses and safeguard jobs in our vital SME sector. But I also want to put the call out to all potential co-investors from the private sector – come and help us support even more businesses through this fund. 

“Only by working together can we safeguard employment and ensure that Greater Manchester is in the best possible shape for recovery.”

Lou Cordwell and Mo Isap, Co-Chairs of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, said: 

“These are unprecedented and very worrying times for businesses. Our Board is continuing to listen to business here in our city-region and we are doing all we can to safeguard jobs and minimise economic damage.

“It is clear that cashflow continues to be the most important issue for businesses and that is why we have immediately made £3m available for distribution by GC Business Finance as part of the new Greater Manchester Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (GM CBILS).

“However, we cannot do this alone. We need our brilliant private sector to step forward as co-investors and help us to scale up this fund so we can protect even more jobs and businesses.”

Mark Hughes, Chief Executive of the Growth Company, said: 

Businesses tell us that they require urgent access to financial support if they are to remain afloat.

“While this funding will be crucial to that effort, this is also about continuing to support business growth, which we know will be so critical for the economy as we come through the immediate Covid-19 crisis.

“Working with our partners at GMCA and with the support of the Greater Manchester Local Enterprise Partnership, I’m pleased that we are now able to provide a lifeline to the many companies, who are doing their utmost to protect jobs and look to the future.

“I would urge any private sector investors who are able to support this initiative through co-investment to get in touch with the Growth Company.

“Our philosophy in response to the challenges presented by the coronavirus has been that we are ‘Here for Business’ and colleagues at GC Business Finance are now able to demonstrate that with vital practical support.”

One of the first GM businesses to benefit from a GC Business Finance administered CBILS loan is Consensus Workspace – one of the UK’s fastest growing interior office fit out specialists.

Commenting on the CBILS loan, Managing Director of Consensus, Andrew Plastow said: 

We approached the Growth Company having struggled to confirm short term funding with our own business bank. I was amazed at the speed of the response, communication and decision making, which came within 12 hours of us returning all the information required.

“GC Business Finance have really delivered on the promises from the Government to help us as a successful but disrupted small business in Greater Manchester.

“The loan is critical to protecting our future growth and ensuring we will be able to immediately mobilise as soon as restrictions are lifted.”

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/greater-manchester-lep-approves-3m-funding-for-local-businesses/


14/04/2020

Job Retention Scheme Portal Update

Senior representatives from HMRC have appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee on the 8th April to answer questions around the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme – the scheme making provision for the furloughing of employees. The full recording of the meeting can be accessed online at parliamenttv.com.

  1. The portal will be open for employers to use on 20 April 2020. The first payments should be made to employers on 30 April 2020 and the aim is that payments will generally be made within 4 to 6 working days of submission of data;
  2. Live testing is underway with a very small number of employers. The capacity has been tested and HMRC is confident in the resilience of the new portal. It will be available 24/7 for users, and users may be queued if too many people are trying to use at the same time;
  3. A guidance document on how to compile claims will be released within the next week; the aim is to ensure employers can self-serve and get claims ready for submission by the date the portal opens. If employers need help, there is a helpline available; this is already staffed by 2,000 advisers. A further 3,500 will be redeployed onto the helpline temporarily, further private sector support is available and HMRC is working with agencies such as the Institute of Chartered Accountants to ensure they can give similar, comprehensive advice;
  4. For employers who run their payroll weekly, claims can be submitted with the same regularity. Only one claim can be made per pay period (which may be weekly or monthly) and it is expected that a high proportion of the first claims will include some backdating into March. A business can make a claim up to 14 days’ ahead (so, if a monthly pay period goes to the 31st of the month, it appears a claim can be submitted 14 days beforehand).
  5. A number of challenges were made around the requirement for employees to be on the Company’s payroll on 28th February in order to qualify. It was made clear that there is no plan to extend the scheme to incorporate those who started after this date; instead, affected employees are being signposted to other, less lucrative benefits;
  6. Concerns were raised around abuse of the system in relation to furloughed employees being required to carry on undertaking work. HMRC stated that there is a hotline in place for employees to report such behaviour. It was also confirmed: a. If there was evidence of a breach of the rules now, claims would simply not be paid out (this would really rely on a report from employees that the scheme was being abused);
  7. In the future, there is the ability to check claims and HMRC may well look for evidence of employees continuing to work while furloughed;
  8. Depending on the severity of an employer’s conduct, this could quite feasibly result in criminal proceedings being considered.

UK Industries Benefiting from Social Distancing: Part One

The spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) has had a profound impact on the UK economy and consumer habits. Since 16 March 2020, the UK government has gradually imposed stricter social distancing and lockdown measures, ordering the closure of schoolspubs, barsrestaurants, and gyms. It extended the mandate to all non-essential stores on 23 March 2020 and asked UK consumers to stay indoors. While some industries have inevitably endured declining sales as patrons stay at home, others have thrived in this time of crisis. In this first instalment of a two-part series, IBISWorld looks at the industries that have and are expected to continue to perform well amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Food stores

As the coronavirus has spread and the UK population is in lockdown, supermarkets have recorded unprecedented sales. As 2019-20 came to a close, supermarket sales surged as consumers stockpiled essential goods such as food, cleaning supplies and medicine. The closure of pubs, bars, schools and universities has resulted in bloated food bills at home, while spending on non-essential items has slumped.

In response, the UK’s big six supermarkets have ramped up recruitment to meet rising demand. The industry largest player, Tesco, is attempting to bring in up 20,000 new temporary workers for between the end of March and June 2020. Sainsbury’s, Asda and Morrisons and leading budget supermarkets Aldi and Lidl have also called for 16,000 temporary and permanent posts across all retail stores and distribution centres. Despite rising demand, however, supermarkets have warned that rising sales may not be enough to offset additional staff and logistics expenses for the year. Tesco, for example, has estimated exceptional charges of £925 million stemming from the pandemic and warned it could not give profit guidance for 2020-21.

Meanwhile, online grocery sales are also expected to flourish as consumers seek goods to be delivered at home. According to the latest Office for National Statistics’ internet sales index, online grocery expenditure rose 1.4% in February 2020 compared with the previous month. This represents a one percentage point increase compared with February 2019. This increase in demand for online grocery sales may continue in the long term, as households are likely to continue purchase groceries online once they become accustomed to the service.

Supermarkets and online channels are not the only beneficiaries. Convenience stores are also expected to record a boost in sales, as households are shopping more frequently and buying slightly more, adding extra items to baskets when faced with movement restrictions and possible isolation.

E-commerce

As UK consumers have been told to stay inside, demand for e-commerce is anticipated to temporarily rise. Social distancing measures are expected to encourage consumers to turn towards ordering products online. Essential items are expected to record the strongest growth, partially due to shifting priorities among retailers. For example, Amazon.com Inc, the largest player in the E-Commerce and Online Auctions industry, announced it would prioritise inventory and orders for six essential categories – baby; health and household; beauty and personal care; grocery; industry and scientific; and pet supplies – until 5 April 2020. Meanwhile, in some countries including Italy and France, the company announced it would only ship essential goods to consumers. Demand for and online payment systems is expected to increase following a rise in online sales.

At-home entertainment

At-home entertainment is also expected to perform well during this crisis. Video streaming services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and YouTube Premium, are popular forms of at-home entertainment. According to the 2019 Ofcom Media report, the number of UK households signing up to streaming platforms increased from 11.2 million in 2018 to 13.3 million, or 47% of UK households, in 2019. Video streamlining platforms recorded a rise in usage following mandatory lockdown measures, and the launch of Disney+ in the United Kingdom on 24 March 2020 is expected to help push up average viewing hours and subscription numbers further. As a sign of growing demand, platforms have introduced new services, such as Netflix’s Party which allows viewers to watch the same show across multiple accounts and locations, but have also lowered the quality of video streaming to ease the strain on internet networks.

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At-home fitness apps and streaming services have also performed well as individuals turn to home-workouts while gyms and fitness centres remain closed. Fitness establishments have jumped onto the trend by releasing at-home workout videos to keep consumers engaged.

Sales of video games, consoles and in-game purchases have also increased as individuals look for new ways to stay in touch and keep entertained. According to Game Sales Data, which monitors digital download game sales and physical hardware and software sales, between 16 March 2020 and 23 March 2020, physical game sales increased by 218.2% and UK digital game downloads increased by 67.4%, while sales of gaming consoles increased 126.6% over the week commencing 16 March 2020, and rose by another 250% over the week commencing 23 March 2020 when stricter social distancing measures were announced.

Surprisingly, growth in radio listening has outstripped that of music streaming, with UK households turning to the radio for music, companionship and news updates. For instance, Nation Broadcasting, which owns Nation Radio and a network of local stations, reported increases across almost every each of its stations of approximately 40%, rising to 75% in some cases. The BBC also reported an 18% increase across radio streaming services, while Global, which owns Capital FM, reported a 15% rise in radio listenership and 9% increase in hours listened between 9 March 2020 and 20 March 2020. Meanwhile, music streaming has stalled as shops that use services such as Spotify remain closed, people are commuting less and households swap static music for conversation on the radio.

Conclusion

Overall, supermarket and convenience store sales are expected to see a boost in sales as consumers are forced into cooking meals at home while pubs, bars and restaurants remain closed. Social distancing measures are expected to encourage consumers to turn towards ordering products online owing to the widespread closure of retail establishments, while at-home entertainment is also expected to perform well.

https://www.ibisworld.com/industry-insider/analyst-insights/uk-industries-benefiting-from-social-distancing-part-one/

Economic Insights – Part Two

Since the last webinar, IBISWorld have further downgraded consumer confidence. 2020-21 average is expected to be approximately 76.4 index points. This comes as the strain hits businesses and more workers put onto furlough. A further fall is possible depending on longevity of COVID-19.

Construction

Construction has suffered a sharp fall in activity during March and has seen the steepest reduction of staff numbers since September 2010. The most affected industries are; Residential building construction, Commercial building construction and Civil engineering.

IBISWorld has downgraded revenue expectations for FY2020 and FY2021.

Retail & Leisure

Low manufacturing output coupled with decreased demand has been felt throughout the industry, demonstrated by a 0.8% fall in retail prices in the first week of April when compared to the same period last year, according to the British Retail Consortium. This is causing retailers to become increasingly reliant on government support with companies such as Debenhams considering entering administration.

Supermarkets have however benefited from the crisis. The CBI Grocery Sales Index has increased from 29 points in February to 90 points by the 24th March.

Automotive Industry

The automotive industry has been hit heavily by COVID-19. A complex global supply chain for motor vehicles that relies on just-in-time manufacturing adds complexities that have resulted in decreased revenue forecasts.

New registrations have seen the sharpest fall for two decades. The drop has been 44.4% in March when compared to the previous year. For export markets, this is expected to weigh in on overall demand for manufacturers who will see decreased demand.

As lockdown is expected to continue, automotive industries are expected to feel the effects throughout the start of the financial year.

Most Affected Industries

2019/20 Revenue Growth

2020/21 Revenue Growth

New Car & Light Motor Vehicle Dealers

(3.4%)

2.2%)

Used Car & Light Motor Vehicle Dealers

2.4%

1.6%

Motor Vehicle Manufacturing

(4.7%)

(2.2%)

Financial Sector

On 27th March, the credit rating agency, Fitch, reduced the UK’s credit rating from AA to AA-, citing significant weakening on U.K. finances caused by the COVID-19 outbreak and future uncertainty surrounding Brexit. A link to the full article is below.

https://www.fitchratings.com/research/structured-finance/fitch-downgrades-uk-to-aa-negative-outlook-27-03-2020

Commercial banks are now becoming concern about the risk level in their loan portfolios.

Supply Chain Exposure

Due to supply chains being global and COVID-19 being present in most countries, supply chains have suffered and pose a significant risk to many industries. Some of the most severely at risk industries are those containing electronic components due to the heavy reliance on China in the supply chain. Other notable industries that are affected include; Watch & Jewellery Wholesaling & Repair, Pharmaceutical Preparations Manufacturing and manufacturing industries that rely on imported inputs.

How organisations can support the testing programme

The government wants help from organisations with laboratory capability to increase the testing programme in the UK as part of its strategy to protect the NHS and save lives.

This guidance is for laboratories or other organisations who are interested in supporting the NHS deliver testing for coronavirus (COVID-19), such as:

  • laboratories, usually without ISO 17025 or ISO 15189 accreditation
  • universities
  • research institutions
  • organisations in other relevant industries and sectors

This guidance provides:

  • details of what criteria a laboratory needs to meet in order to form a partnership with a local NHS trust
  • exemplar case studies setting out how laboratories are currently partnering with local NHS trusts to expand their testing capacity

There is further information on how laboratories can help the government increase COVID-19 testing capacity.

You can also read more about the COVID-19 testing strategy.

See other ways your business or organisation can help with the response to coronavirus.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-how-organisations-can-support-the-testing-programme

Help for director/shareholders of limited companies

The Self Employment Support Scheme does not include directors of limited companies. If the company is not trading and has been ‘mothballed’ during lockdown, directors are able to furlough themselves under the Job Retention Scheme, for the PAYE element of their earnings only, if they only carry out activities which would ‘reasonably be judged necessary’ for the purpose of fulfilling statutory duties.

However, this would not fully assist owner/directors of limited companies who may also receive their income by way of dividends.

There is still also the support offered through the benefits system.

Both Universal Credit standard allowance and Working Tax Credit basic elements will be increased by £1,000 a year for the next 12 months. To ensure that the Self Employed benefit the minimum income floor (MIF) has also been removed. The MIF is a measure that assumes that Self Employed workers earn a certain level of income. By eliminating this, it opens more benefits to people who are Self Employed “at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees” according to the Chancellor.

There has also been an increase in support for renters with an increase in Local Housing Allowance that will cover at least 30% of market rents and also the previously announced three-month mortgage holiday.

In summary it still feels like Company Directors are not been supported as well as others in the economy, but as we have seen this week, all that could change and we are hoping that further announcements regarding other forms of support may be made in due course.

How to approach financial institutions including your bank

Most banks are maintaining that it is business as usual, as far as possible, and that they are here to support their customers throughout these unprecedented times. Several of the major British banks have set-up dedicated Covid-19 helplines for their customers to call for guidance and information. Business owners should look to take advantage of all the support available to them and take the opportunity to speak to their lenders about concerns they have.

Proactive, regular communication with lenders is recommended. If you are predicting a down-turn in trade or your cash-flow projections reveal a potential liquidity issue in the next couple of months, it is best to speak to your bank as soon as possible to discuss the potential impact on your business. The quicker you raise any concerns, the better chance you might have to get the flexibility that your business might need over the coming months. It may also afford you more time to discuss a range of options and solutions.

Banks and mortgage lenders have also voluntarily agreed to offer customers three month-payment holidays. Businesses should look to take advantage of this where it is felt their business will benefit, therefore discuss this with your bank at the earliest opportunity.

Keep in touch with your bank as much as possible over the next few months and talk to us if you need a sounding board to discuss your lending and cash-flow needs, or to assist with producing any information requested from your bank. The banks, together with the Government and your advisers are here to help whilst we’re all in this together.

Look towards other funders

There is no doubt that other funders, alternative and second tier, will be looking to fill the gaps left by the banks. We understand that many alternative and peer-to-peer lenders have also applied to be accredited. All accredited lenders can be found here, your Hallidays team can advise on which lender would be most appropriate for your needs, whether under the CBILS or not.

UK leads global fight to prevent second wave of coronavirus

UK aid will protect the British public and help prevent a second wave of coronavirus coming to the UK by slowing its spread in the most vulnerable countries, International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan announced today.

A package of £200 million will back UK charities and international organisations to help reduce mass infections in developing countries which often lack the healthcare systems to track and halt the virus. Thursday’s announcement brings the total amount of UK aid committed to the global fight against coronavirus to £744 million, making the UK one of the biggest donors to the international response.

Health experts have identified the weakness of developing countries’ healthcare systems as one of the biggest risks to the global spread of the virus. They have also warned that if coronavirus is left to spread in developing countries, this could lead to the virus re-emerging in the UK later in the year and put further pressure on our NHS.

The new UK aid announced today includes £130 million for UN agencies in response to their urgent appeal for support. Of this, £65 million will go to the World Health Organization (WHO) which is coordinating international efforts to end the pandemic sooner.

UK funding for the WHO will help provide more accurate assessments of how the pandemic is progressing around the world, allowing support to be targeted where it will save the most lives and stop the outbreak sooner, and helping countries respond to the virus.

The pandemic is particularly dangerous for countries with weak health systems who are already struggling to fight preventable diseases. In Yemen, 80 per cent of the population are already in need of humanitarian assistance and only about 50 per cent of health facilities are operational. In Asia, Bangladesh hosts 850,000 Rohingya refugees, many in crowded and unsanitary camps where disease could take hold rapidly.

These countries will be hard hit by lockdowns and disruptions to the supply of goods and services. UK aid will help to mitigate these conditions and support those already living in desperate situations.

The funding will also help developing countries to rapidly identify and care for patients with symptoms in order to limit human-to-human transmission. Our investment will help install new hand-washing stations and isolation and treatment centres in refugee camps, and increase access to clean water for those living in areas of armed conflict.

International Development Secretary Anne-Marie Trevelyan said:

While our brilliant doctors and nurses fight coronavirus at home, we’re deploying British expertise and funding around the world to prevent a second deadly wave reaching the UK.

Coronavirus does not respect country borders so our ability to protect the British public will only be effective if we strengthen the healthcare systems of vulnerable developing countries too.

Our new UK aid support will help stop the virus from infecting millions of people in the poorest countries, meaning we can end this global pandemic sooner and prevent future waves of infection coming to the UK.

A further £50 million of the £200 million package will support the Red Cross in difficult to reach areas such as those suffering from armed conflict.

A final £20 million will go to NGOs, including UK charities which are using British expertise and experience to deal with coronavirus.

Pioneering British scientists and researchers like those at Oxford University and at Mologic, based in Bedford, are already at the forefront of the global race to find a coronavirus vaccine and stop its spread, including within the UK.

The UK has already committed £250 million of aid to the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) to rapidly develop a coronavirus vaccine, the biggest donation of any country. Thanks to this investment, future vaccines will be made available at the lowest possible price to the NHS and other countries’ healthcare systems.

The announcement follows the Prime Minister’s call to world leaders to work together to create a vaccine as quickly as possible and make it available to anyone who needs it.

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization said:

COVID-19 has demonstrated it has no regard for borders, ethnicities, ideologies or the size of a country’s economy.

The United Kingdom’s generous contribution is a strong statement that this is a global threat that demands a global response. WHO is deeply grateful to the government and people of the United Kingdom for their generous contribution.

We are all in this together, which means protecting health around the world will help to protect the health of people in the UK.

UK aid support for the WHO will not only help developing countries but will also benefit the UK through further research into the virus and improved international coordination.

Alexander Mattheou, Executive Director of International for the British Red Cross, said:

The scale of this grant to the International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement (including the IFRC and ICRC) shows the gravity of the challenge ahead of us. The virus may not discriminate, but it hits vulnerable communities - those lacking healthcare, sanitation and food - the hardest.

“The British Red Cross, part of the global Red Cross Movement, is responding right now here in the UK, including supporting our NHS. However at the end of the day, the global response will only be as effective as the weakest health system. We must support the most vulnerable countries now as a part of an effort to keep us all safe.

The pandemic also creates other challenges – from women and girls who become more vulnerable to abuse, to people experiencing chronic hunger who lose access to food support, to camps and hospitals who have critical supplies cut off.

The COVID-19 response must include the immediate and the secondary impacts of the pandemic.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/uk-leads-global-fight-to-prevent-second-wave-of-coronavirus


09/04/2020

The Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme ready to launch 20th April

In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the Chancellor announced a series of measures to support businesses and their employees. One of those measures is the CJRS, that allows employers to claim 80% of the wages of staff (up to a maximum of £2,500 per employee) that they have furloughed (been put on temporary leave).

Service launch

HMRC are ready to launch on 20 April. This will be made public shortly, at which point they will be contacting businesses to advise them what they need to do. Hallidays will be contacting all our payroll clients to confirm the procedures in the next week or so.

HMRC is working at pace to deliver the service that will allow businesses to make a claim. Businesses, and agents that are authorised to act on behalf of clients for PAYE matters, will be able to claim. However, file only agents, including Payroll Bureaus, will not be able access the service due to data protection reasons.

Find out more

The latest guidance on CJRS can be found on GOV.UK by searching for 'Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme'.

HMRC will also be providing you with further information on their support for businesses and workers over the coming weeks, including more detail on the Coronavirus Self Employment Income Support Scheme.

If you have any queries regarding the CJRS, please contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hello@hallidays.co.uk.

Why a Commercial Lasting Power of Attorney is Important for Your Business

Running a business involves planning for the future and setting goals. Unfortunately, illness or incapacity is not something we can predict. A Commercial Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA) can help to ensure your business continues to run smoothly should you lose capacity or be unable to run your business due to ill health.

What is a Commercial Lasting Power of Attorney?

A Lasting Power of Attorney is a legal document which allows you to appoint someone you trust to act on your behalf if you lose capacity and are unable to make decisions. You may have heard of the Property and Financial Lasting Power of Attorney which deals with your personal financial affairs. A similar document can be prepared for your business decisions, but it may not be appropriate to appoint the same person for your personal financial affairs and your business decisions as there could be a conflict of interest. You may also prefer to appoint someone who understands the way your business is managed and has a similar commercial attitude.

Why should you have a Commercial LPA?

If you lose capacity but you have not appointed an attorney to make business decisions on your behalf, an application will need to be made to the Court of Protection for an individual to be appointed to act on your behalf. This may not be the person you intended to look after your business affairs, nor may it be the person best suited for the job.

This process can also take around 4 months and during that time it may not be possible to run the business effectively as suppliers and employees may not get paid and proposed agreements may not be completed. This could cause most businesses to come into difficulty and they could be wound up.

Is my business suitable for a Commercial LPA?

Whether you are running your business as a sole trader, partnership or limited company, you will need to consider the potential effects of you losing capacity, and whether a Commercial LPA could protect your business.

If you are a sole trader there may be no other person that could carry on your business in the event of your incapacity. A Commercial Lasting Power of Attorney could assist to ensure that someone you trust could continue to run your business or wind it up without the need to apply to the Court of Protection.

If your business is a partnership then much will depend upon whether or not you have a Partnership Agreement in place. If a Partnership Agreement is in place, this is likely to dictate what is to happen in the event of your incapacity. In the absence of a Partnership Deed or Commercial LPA, an application to the Court of Protection may be necessary.

If you are a director or shareholder in a limited company, the company’s governing documents (the Articles of Association and any Shareholders Agreement) may contain provisions which require you to cease to be a director, or require you to offer your shares for sale back to your fellow shareholders in the event of your incapacity, in order to give your fellow shareholders control over the Company. You should review the company’s governing documents for these provisions prior to entering into a Commercial LPA. Our corporate team can assist you with this.

Unfortunately, if you are a director, it is not usually possible (unless the governing documents allow this) for you to delegate your functions as a director through an LPA, as the position of a director is a personal appointment. However, if you are a shareholder with voting rights, an attorney, if appointed, may be able to exercise those rights on your behalf, subject to the governing documents.

It is always worth reviewing your governing documents to ensure that you can protect the future of your business in the event that you are unable to make decisions.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/expert-opinion-why-a-commercial-lasting-power-of-attorney-is-important-for-your-business/

Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker: Businesses not yet successfully accessing government loan and grant schemes

Results from the second British Chamber of Commerce Coronavirus Business Impact Tracker reveal that most businesses have not yet successfully accessed the government’s Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) and the grants for small businesses.

  • Just 1 percent of firms had successfully accessed CBILS and 7 per cent are receiving grants
  • 57 percent of firms have three months cash in reserve or less, 6 per cent of respondents have already run out of cash
  • 37 percent of respondents said they were planning to furlough between 75 to 100 per cent of their workforce over the next week

The leading business organisation’s weekly tracker poll, which serves as a barometer of pandemic’s impact on businesses and the effectiveness of government support measures, received more than 1,000 responses and is the largest independent survey of its kind in the UK.

The second set of polling was conducted from 1-3 April and follows further announcements made by the government to strengthen CBILS and expand support to mid-sized firms.

Access to government support schemes

Businesses continue to report a high level of awareness of the government’s support schemes:

  • 59 percent of businesses knew details about CBILS and 19 per cent planned to use it
  • 42 percent knew details of the grants available for small businesses and 24 per cent planned to use it

However, the Tracker suggests that awareness is not translating into firms successfully accessing these schemes.

Just 1 percent of respondents had successfully accessed the CBILS last week, with 8 percent of respondents unsuccessful. The complexity of the application process and a slow or lack of response from the relevant body were cited as reasons for those who were unsuccessful.

It is hoped that the government’s announcements made on 2 April intended to improve access to the scheme will see success rates increase in future weeks.

7 percent of respondents were currently using grants for small businesses, but 14 percent had been unsuccessful. When asked about the reasons they were unsuccessful:

  • 83 percent said they did not meet the criteria
  • 14 percent said they had a slow or no response from the relevant body
  • 8 percent said there was insufficient information or guidance available

Cash flow concerns

Business’ cash flow, an important indicator of overall economic health, remains an urgent concern. The percentage of firms reporting less than a month’s worth of cash in reserve (16 percent) and 1 to 3 months’ cash in reserve (41 percent) has remained broadly unchanged from the previous week.

Of most concern, the percentage of firms reporting no cash in reserve was 6 per cent. B2C firms were more likely to report that they had no cash reserves (10%) compared to B2B firms and manufacturers (both 4%).

The proportion of respondents reporting over 12 months’ cash in reserve remains at5 per cent despite a significant increase in the number of respondents.

Businesses furloughing employees

37 percent of respondents said they were planning to furlough between 75 to 100 percent of their workforce over the next week, up from 32 percent last week.

The percentage of firms intending to furlough 100 per cent of their staff increased from 17 per cent in our first week’s results to 20 percent this week.

Commenting on the results, BCC Director General Dr Adam Marshall said:

“Our latest data shows that many businesses face a cliff-edge scenario, either at the end of this month or over the course of the next quarter.

“We’ve seen a big jump in the number of firms furloughing staff, and many are now starting to apply for access to government loan and grant schemes to keep themselves afloat. Our research suggests that support is only starting to reach firms on the ground.

“We are pleased that the Chancellor is listening and responding to our calls to strengthen the existing support. Improvements to the CBILS scheme should help more businesses get access to the cash they need over the coming days and weeks. This could be the difference between survival and insolvency for many firms.

“It’s vital that governments across the UK continue to work closely with business over the coming days. Every minute counts, and governments, local authorities and banks must do everything in their power to ensure support gets to firms on the frontline more quickly.”

https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/news/2020/04/bcc-coronavirus-business-impact-tracker-businesses-not-yet-successfully-accessing-government-loan-and-grant-schemes

Chancellor announces aid for charities

Rishi Sunak unveils a £750m package to keep charities afloat during the coronavirus pandemic.

The move follows concern that some charities are facing collapse, with income shrinking because of enforced shop closures.

Bigger charities such as Oxfam and Age UK have furloughed two-thirds of staff.

The measures involve cash grants direct to charities providing key services during the crisis.

As part of the scheme, £360m will be directly allocated by government departments to those charities.

Another £370m will go to small local charities, including those delivering food and essential medicines and providing financial advice.

Gentleness of charity'

Announcing the move, Mr Sunak said the government could not match every pound of spending that the UK's 170,000 charities would have received this year.

He also said charities were eligible for help through the government's job retention scheme.

However, he said the government wanted to help the charities that were "on the front line of fighting the coronavirus".

"Shutting up shop at this moment would contravene their very purpose," he added.

Mr Sunak also said the government would match all donations to the BBC's Big Night In fundraising event on 23 April, pledging a minimum of £20m.

"We need the gentleness of charity in our lives," he said.

Charity organiser Jeff Kennedy, who runs the Community First Aid Corps in Morecambe, says he has yet to study the details of the Treasury's plan, but that his organisation urgently needs help.

In normal times, his six-person team provides first aid cover at public events in exchange for donations, but a string of cancellations has left the charity on the brink of going bust.

Mr Kennedy said his team had found a new role in the community by collecting shopping for vulnerable people and walking their dogs, but income had dried up, while accommodation and utility bills still needed to be paid.

"We don't know whether we'll be able to come through this," Mr Kennedy told the BBC. "I've been using my life savings, putting money in out of my own pocket, for a few weeks now, just to keep us afloat."

'Important support'

In the run-up to Mr Sunak's announcement, charities including the St John Ambulance Association had warned that they could go bust unless they received state aid.

The ambulance association will now receive assistance as part of the package, as will hospices, Citizens Advice and charities dealing with vulnerable children and victims of domestic abuse.

Sir John Low, chief executive of the Charities Aid Foundation, said the set of measures from the Treasury would "offer important and welcome support for civil society at this very difficult time for us all".

But there was still "a long way to go", he added.

"Recognising the humbling generosity of the British public right now is so vital as we rally together in the face of such a national challenge," he said.

Shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds said: "While this announcement is welcome, it falls far short of filling the financial black hole many organisations are facing.

"Ministers should continue to look at what additional measures can be made available.

"We must also see concerted action to guarantee this support can get to charities swiftly, to prevent further damage being done."

Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52221402


08/04/2020

Coronavirus: how do I discharge my duties as a director in the current crisis? (COVID-19)

This high-level know-how guide for directors is intended to reassure directors that they have identified all relevant considerations for themselves and for their companies.

ICAEW’s guide to directors' responsibilities and duties covers internal governance, transactions between a company and its directors or shareholders, and corporate administration. It also covers directors’ responsibilities in relation to insolvent or financially challenged companies.

Companies’ investment in the exploration and articulation of culture should be paying off now, and robust business continuity plans are directors’ central reference point. However, directors may be concerned about how they can fulfil all of their personal responsibilities and duties during the Covid-19 crisis. They may even be concerned about their personal liability.

Although the expectations and requirements in codes and rules have not gone away, they may seem inadequate or irrelevant. Regulatory announcements such as extra time for the publication of audited financial reports and ability to request late filing of accounts at Companies House are welcome, but for many directors they might seem a drop in the ocean.

  1. Flex your leadership style

Health and safety is suddenly paramount, and at the moment it overshadows all other considerations. The extent and longevity of the crisis is unfolding on a daily basis. For these reasons, directors need to acknowledge that the pandemic poses great emotional challenges as well as practical ones. Employees are bound to look to board directors for stoicism, and the best approach is deliberate calm coupled with bounded optimism. Success depends upon sufficient pragmatism to adapt to the new reality.

Directors need to be open to a variation in routines and structures. A good starting place is to make changes to the board’s calendar of meetings. We suggest scheduling additional board meetings as they can always be cancelled if necessary. Too many is preferable to too few. It may be necessary to create a means of confidential communications between board members if a mechanism doesn’t already exist.

  1. Get close

NEDs will want and need to get closer to operational management than usual, eg, they will want greater visibility around human resources. NEDs should seek reassurance that those working on the frontline feel safe and sufficiently empowered, and that reporting lines are efficient and flexible. Contingency plans for any sickness absence is critical, including the absence of the CEO or other key personnel.

  1. Remuneration

Existing remuneration structures should already encourage everybody to pull together, but if not, then consideration should be given to revising or suspending discretionary incentive and bonus plans. However, contractual changes can only be made with the agreement of the beneficiary.

Longer-term considerations for Remuneration Committees and boards may include exercising discretion to account for share price volatility, and delaying setting incentive plan goals until the uncertainty has subsided.

  1. AGMs

Initial and supplementary guidance about AGMs and the Stay at Home Measures has been prepared by Clifford Chance LLP, Freshfields Bruckhause Deringer LPP, Linklaters LLP and Slaughter and May, with the support of the FRC, Association of General Counsel and Company Secretaries working in the FTSE 100 (GC100), the Investment Association and the Quoted Companies Alliance. It has also been reviewed by BEIS.

Companies should check their Articles of Association and other relevant matters, and coordinate with registrars and venues. Subject to that, the guidance outlines the following options for companies: adapt, delay, postpone, adjourn or conduct a hybrid AGM (a combination of electronic and physical).

It is vital that boards engage with investors and other stakeholders through the most appropriate channels. They need to be able to ask questions, their comments need to be heard by others and they need to receive answers. The guidance suggests online Q&A facilities for shareholders, and notes that shareholders may need IT support. Companies could consider holding a shareholder event later in the year.

Proxy voting is ideal for this situation. There is logic in voting in advance, and appointing the Chairman as proxy poses less risk that appointing a specific named director who may fall ill.

  1. Risk management

The importance of identifying, prioritising and managing the greatest risks probably goes without saying, but may be harder said than done. If a company has a Risk Committee then their skills should be utilised. Audit Committees may have a role to play.

Operational considerations may require a variation in financial controls. Companies should also be alive to cyber risk. Highly regulated companies need to stay vigilant to compliance risks. The usual reporting mechanisms and protections for whistleblowers must be maintained as their insights could be particularly valuable at this time.

Activists and others may take advantage of the situation. Well-capitalized activists could attempt to exploit the enhanced vulnerability of target companies. Companies should monitor for changes in stock ownership.

  1. Insolvency

On 28 March 2020 the Government announced that wrongful trading provisions will be temporarily suspended from 1 March 2020 so that directors would not be personally liable for continuing to trade under those provisions. Nevertheless, other insolvency laws, for instance on fraudulent trading, are expected to continue in force and companies that are, or may become, insolvent should continue to consider the possible implications carefully and seek advice where appropriate. (See also ICAEW’s publication Early action is key).

  1. Directors’ Duties

Directors have a duty to consider or act in the interest of creditors. The seven general duties of directors continue to apply : to promote the success of the company (referred to s.172 duties)1; exercise independent judgement; exercise reasonable care, skill and diligence; avoid conflicts of interest; not accept benefits from third parties; and declare any interest in proposed transactions or arrangements. Although legal remedies can be applied to directors who breach their duties, directors should bear in mind that courts always decide cases on the specific facts and the circumstances generated by Covid-19 will be highly relevant.

Companies in financial difficulty should also be aware of their duties to creditors and insolvency law noted above.

  1. Reporting

Companies which have recent additions to their Strategic Reports and Directors’ Reports will be mindful that boards’ discussions and decisions during the Covid-19 crisis will be disclosed in due course.

Companies which need to make s.172 statements in their Strategic Reports should be aware that BEIS have suggested that companies will probably want to include information on some or all of the following:

    • The issues, factors and stakeholders the directors consider relevant in complying with section 172(1)(a) to(f) and how they have formed that opinion;
    • The main methods the directors have used to engage with stakeholders and understand the issues to which they must have regard; and
    • Information on the effect of that regard on the company’s decisions and strategies during the financial year.

Directors should be inspired by examples of companies having impressive regard for the community, eg, supermarkets have dedicated shopping times for the elderly and NHS staff, and companies are working on the provision of personal protective equipment.

All UK registered companies (quoted and unquoted) which have employed on average more than 250 UK employees in the preceding financial year have had a recent addition to their Directors’ Report about employee engagement. These reports detail: how directors have engaged with employees; how they have had regard to employee interests; and how employee interests have effected principle decision-making.

Other companies (including subsidiaries) are required to provide more detail on how directors have fostered the company’s business relationships with suppliers, customers and others, and how this has effected principle decision-making.

Again, there are inspirational examples of companies’ supporting their employees and others during the pandemic crisis.

  1. Why directors should use social media

Thoughtful and calm external and internal communications are needed. A ‘message from the CEO’ is low-cost but invaluable for boosting employee morale and customer confidence in the brand. Other directors may be wondering what they can do to help, and for some directors the answer will be social media. The crisis has once again underlined the power of social media, and the perceived barriers are not as high as directors might imagine. There are many benefits for directors, eg, updating their skills, enhancing their credibility and controlling their legacy. Companies’ communications executives may welcome directors support at this time, subject to appropriate controls being agreed.

  1. What we’ve learned and what we want to continue
    • In the aftermath directors and companies should reflect on lessons learned and what should be continued.
    • It may be possible to protect supply chains from future shocks, eg, seeking alternate suppliers.
    • Companies which have struggled with their AGMS may want to propose amendments to their Articles of Association in order to allow hybrid AGMs . This could include exploring the technology for electronic voting.
    • Contracts which haven’t been fulfilled should be reviewed for force majeure clauses.
    • Indemnification and insurance for directors may need to be reviewed
    • Some companies may benefit from strategic opportunities, eg, to fulfill an unmet need occasioned by the pandemic, or opportunities for growth through M&A.

https://www.icaew.com/technical/corporate-governance/roles/company-directors/directors-guidance/coronavirus-and-directors

Employee wellbeing

Your emotional and mental wellbeing is important. It is normal to feel stressed or lonely when self-isolating, but there are some things you can do to feel better.

https://www.britishchambers.org.uk/page/employer-and-employee-support

Actions companies should consider in these challenging times

Deferring VAT

Temporarily cancel HMRC direct debit until further notice. At the moment the VAT can be deferred to April 2021, but this deadline may change. You will need to cancel the direct debit otherwise HMRC will take the VAT due. VAT Returns still need to be submitted.

De-register for VAT

Extreme care is needed as there are a number of potential problems. It may not be possible to de-register in some cases and overall it may be more beneficial to stay VAT registered. Talk to us first, to fully consider the impact, and assess whether possible. There may be other action that can be taken to help.

Consider changing the company year end

Where trading has stopped, or profits dropped off a cliff then it may be possible to defer tax payments. Talk to us first, to fully consider the impact, assess whether possible or even worthwhile.

Consider what further claims are possible

There may be other ways to reduce tax bills or identify possible tax payments if a deep dive review is undertaken in specialist areas. We are happy to talk this through and put you in touch with appropriate specialists if required.

Consider seeking finance

If you require help with accounts and financial projections before approaching financial institutions, please do talk to us.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Loans up to £5 million are available from accredited lenders providing criteria met. Will need to provide copies of accounts and financial projections. Lenders may also offer commercial loans if appropriate. Talk to us first for help with accounts and financial projections.

Businesses will be contacted by their local authority in relation to the grant schemes relating to the rates in the first instance. Again if you require any help please just let us know.

Actions self-employed individuals should consider in these challenging times

Apply for grant under self-employed support scheme

When available a grant of 80% of their profits up to a cap of £2,500 per month. HMRC will use the average profits from tax returns 2016-17, 2017-18 and 2018-19 to calculate the size of the grant. The scheme will be open to those individuals with the majority of their income from self-employment and who have profits of less than £50,000. Further details and how to claim can be found online.

Defer 31st July tax payment

Self-assessment income tax payments due on 31st July 2020 can be deferred to 31st January 2021. The deferment is optional, and no applications are necessary. No penalties or interest will be charged if payment is deferred. Cancel DD if paying by direct debit.

Deferring VAT

Temporarily cancel HMRC direct debit until further notice. At the moment the VAT can be deferred to April 2021, but this deadline may change. You will need to cancel the direct debit otherwise HMRC will take the VAT due. VAT Returns still need to be submitted.

De-register for VAT

Extreme care is needed as there are a number of potential problems. It may not be possible to de-register in some cases and overall it may be more beneficial to stay VAT registered. Talk to us first, to fully consider the impact, and assess whether possible. There may be other action that can be taken to help.

Consider changing the business year end

Where trading has stopped, or profits dropped off a cliff then it may be possible to defer tax or even reclaim tax already paid. Talk to us first, to fully consider the impact, assess whether possible or even worthwhile.

Consider what further claims are possible

There may be other ways to reduce tax bills or identify possible tax payments if a deep dive review is undertaken in specialist areas. We are happy to talk this through and put you in touch with appropriate specialists if required.

Consider seeking finance

If you require help with accounts and financial projections before approaching financial institutions, please do talk to us.

Business Interruption Loan Scheme

Loans up to £5 million are available from accredited lenders providing criteria met. Will need to provide copies of accounts and financial projections. Lenders may also offer commercial loans if appropriate. Talk to us first for help with accounts and financial projections.

Actions individuals should consider in these challenging times

Complete and submit your 2020 tax return

If there is a chance of a tax repayment resulting from the 2019/20 tax return, then it is worth having this completed and submitted to HMRC as soon as possible to reclaim this tax.

Defer 31st July tax payment

Self-assessment income tax payments due on 31st July 2020 can be deferred to 31st January 2021. The deferment is optional, and no applications are necessary. No penalties or interest will be charged if payment is deferred. Cancel DD if paying by direct debit.

Consider registering for child benefit

Parents, if you have not already done so you could consider registering for child benefit as there could be cash flow advantages for some, and for others there may be cash advantages, especially if personal income has fallen recently.

Consider claiming Universal Credit

Whether in or out of work, you could consider claiming Universal Credit or other support, if you are on a low income and affected by the economic impacts. 

Powers of attorney

It can be difficult talking about such matters. However, having the appropriate Power of Attorney in place can provide some peace of mind. Your solicitor can probably help in this area.

Wills and Inheritance Tax

This crisis has brought into sharp focus our own mortality. Having a tax efficient Will and appropriate planning in place can not only make things much simpler for loved ones to deal with a deceased’s estate, but it ensures their estate is shared exactly how they wish.


07/04/2020

Leadership in Times of Crisis

Now, more than ever, leaders are being called upon to guide their teams through uncertainty. From small emergencies to natural disasters, there have always been challenges to leading people through turbulent times.

Poor leadership can cause considerable damage at a time when people need guidance and direction to regain a sense of calm and confidence that things will get better.

Leaders should be aware that people process information differently during a crisis. According to the CDC’s guide on crisis and emergency risk communication, we should adjust the way we communicate to be most effective. However, a global analysis from the international executive search firm, Odgers Berndtson, reveals that only 15% of executives believe their companies’ top leadership is positioned to succeed. This lack of confidence is especially alarming since 95% of executives also believe that managing disruption, including unexpected events like pandemics, climate change, and ever evolving technology, is now critical to the success of companies. The challenges companies are facing now require an evolution of leadership and will require a shift in mindset as well as a skillset. Steve Potter, CEO of Odgers Berndtson U.S., explains, “As a firm, we have certainly been thinking about what this means for us, and are making changes through use of artificial intelligence, in pricing, additional leadership and organizational offerings, and other services that will benefit our clients as they innovate for the future.”

How can we, as leaders in business and our broader communities, make sure we are stepping up to the challenge of leading through disruption? Are you ready to lead your team through the current COVID-19 pandemic, and the economic realities related to taking appropriate safety measures?

The psychology of a crisis

Simplify your messages. When people are under stress and experiencing informational overload, they can miss the nuances of words and won’t remember as much information as they usually would.

You should also know that people will hold on to current beliefs, and will resist making changes in their routine. For example, it can be hard to convince people to seek shelter from an approaching storm when the weather looks beautiful at the moment. You may notice this in the current COVID-19 pandemic that people are initially reluctant to follow safety guidelines like social distancing and self-isolating if they have possible exposure. This could be because they haven’t seen anyone get sick, or are in denial about the potential dangers of a global pandemic.

Stay informed by seeking credible information. Watch and read news from multiple sources to see if they are sharing similar warnings. Confirm your data before sharing it with your team or organization. People tend to believe the first messages they receive, so be careful not to spread bad information or rumors that will cause confusion inadvertently. However, release accurate messaging as soon as possible.

Your communication efforts will be of utmost importance during any crisis. Some leaders will focus solely on client communication, wanting to be sure they feel taken care of and are aware of the company’s efforts to help. However, remember, you need to focus on your team members as well. If you can reassure them and provide a good example, they will stay engaged and continue to work hard for your organization as you navigate uncertain times.

According to a Harvard Business Review article on Crisis Communication, there are some simple things you can do to reassure your team when the future is uncertain. First, you should centre yourself. Take a moment to make sure that you can present a calm, rational demeanour to your colleagues. When you feel anxiety, it is easy to transmit that to others as they take social cues from you. Next, always put yourself in your audience’s shoes. Try to anticipate their concerns, and what their most immediate needs will be.

You should also make sure to speak confidently even when you are communicating uncertainty. You can be transparent about not knowing all the answers right at that moment, but make sure you still sound in control of the situation. Finally, have some specific next steps.

In times of disruption, having tangible actions to take can help give your team a sense of control, and make them feel like they are contributing to a solution.

Adaptive leadership

It is also important to remember that in a crisis, leaders must be able to adapt rapidly. Remember that your first response may not be the final response, and your overall strategy might change quickly as new information becomes available. You must continue to take in new information and cannot be insistent on a singular approach if the situation changes.

The landscape of business operations is currently changing by the hour, and the ability for individual leaders and organizations to take on the process of change is vital to success. Leaders will need to discern what is necessary and what is expendable very rapidly.

Leaders need to be able to pivot quickly to adapt to evolving situations.

Schools, gyms, and yoga studios are moving to online livestreaming classes. Restaurants are changing to pick up and delivery service only. Technology leaders are developing apps to help everyone stay connected and keep working.

One way many organizations are adapting to current conditions is to have their workers work remotely to follow advisement about social distancing to slow the spread of COVID-19. Changing your business operations quickly can be difficult under the best circumstances.

It can be difficult to lead in a virtual office environment effectively. Best-selling author and global researcher, Marcus Buckingham recently shared some tips about leading in remote work environments. He reminds us that the ADP Research Institute did a comprehensive study of engagement and found that some of the most engaged employees work remotely 80% of the time. It is possible to keep your team engaged and connected even if you can’t physically meet in person. He recommends weekly virtual check-ins with the team. However, Buckingham warns against trying to be a therapist during these check-ins by addressing everyone’s feelings.

Instead, focus your team’s attention and provide them with a sense of what they can control at the moment, such as making progress on a particular project, or responding to client inquiries.

As Buckingham rightly points out, “The best leaders take anxiety and turn it into confidence.”

Servant leadership

Today’s successful leaders are adopting the basic philosophies of servant leadership, focusing on enriching the lives of individuals, building better organizations, and creating a more caring world.

In the current concerns over COVID-19, cities are grappling with canceling or postponing large revenue-producing conferences and festivals, marathons, and movie premiers. Restaurants are being stopped from providing dine-in service to customers. This results in lost revenue and jobs, and spreads uncertainty in the economy. How leaders respond to this is critical on both a global and local scale. Some organizations have taken immediate steps to help in the face of shutdowns. Microsoft has committed to continue paying hourly employees that serve their office buildings even though they have asked their teams to work from home. Google has established a fund that enables temporary staff and vendors to take paid sick leave if they have symptoms or are quarantined. They are also working on making an app for people to order pick up orders online available for free to help restaurants stay open. The Shine Distillery in Portland started producing and giving away hand sanitizer after learning there was a shortage in their area. There are many more examples, and hopefully, we will continue to see more business leaders finding innovative ways to help in a crisis.

Helping others in times of need will also strengthen your organisation’s reputation and brand in your community.

Sometimes servant leadership will require making painful decisions. Recently the City of Austin, Texas, made the difficult decision to cancel their annual South by Southwest (SXSW) conference for the first time in 34 years, just days before it was to begin. The cancellation of this event will result in over $350 million in revenue being lost to the city’s economy. However, the city remained focused on the greater good of the population instead of the immediate economic cost.

While this immediately created chaos and uncertainty for SXSW as an organisation, one of the first actions they took was to compile resources to help the local businesses, artists, and service industry workers that would be most affected and share that information. They moved quickly to communicate specific actions people could take to support those hit hardest by the cancellation, demonstrating true servant leadership by thinking of others and serving the community first.

The principles of servant leadership can be very effective in times of crisis. Jeffrey Hayzlett, author of The Hero Factor: How Great Leaders Transform Organisations and Create a Winning Culture, explains that servant leadership is about what you can do for others outside of the organisation as well as being a servant to your own values and building a culture around you that reflects those values. Hayzlett suggests four necessary steps you can take to become a better servant leader:

Encourage diversity of thought.

Encourage your team to think outside the box and consider everyone’s perspective when it’s time to make a move. Are you giving everyone a seat at the table? What valuable input are you missing if you aren’t focused on collaboration and exchanging ideas?

Create a culture of trust.

Especially in times of uncertainty, a leader must be transparent and have a clear purpose. Communications need to be specific and disseminated to every level of the organisation top to bottom. Trust is earned and hard to repair once broken.

Have an unselfish mindset.

Remember that it is not about you. Where would you be without the people on your team? Or the clients you serve? Hayzlett reminds us that many leaders make the mistake of viewing people and profits as two separate issues. However, you cannot have one without the other. Show your team and your clients that they are valued, and during difficult times, do your best to make them feel supported.

Foster leadership in others.

Develop future leaders in your organization through coaching and mentorship. Take the time to teach someone the ropes, bring them into meaningful conversations, or consider enrolling them in a leadership development program.

If you are consistently developing your leaders, your organisation will be ready to face any challenges that come your way.

Positive outcomes

When handled well, crisis management can produce very positive outcomes for you and your team. There can be a feeling of strength and empowerment, and a renewed sense of community that comes from coming together to get through uncertainty.

Organizations that make the right moves now will become stronger and more viable.

With the right leadership, your team, your organisation, your community cannot only make it through a crisis but learn from it and become better because of it.

https://coach.crestcom.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/FINAL-Leadership-in-Times-of-Crisis-Whitepaper.pdf

Cheshire East Council – update on Covid-19 business grant funding

Cheshire East Council has received its funding allowance from government, which means the process of distributing grants to businesses has now started. 

Eligible businesses, who have registered their bank account details with the council, should begin to receive their grant funding – via BACS transfer – automatically from 6 April onwards. 

Receiving a government business grant is a free and automatic service. There is no lengthy application process and no need for businesses to employ an agency service or broker. 

For businesses that do not pay business rates by direct debit or qualify for small business rate relief, the council does not hold any bank details and will be unable to make grant payments via cheque. These businesses are advised to register their bank details using a simple online form that can be found at cheshireeast.gov.uk/business and then clicking on the 'Information for employers and businesses about Covid-19' link. 

During this time the business team will be exceptionally busy issuing vital funds to businesses across the borough. The council asks that anyone with questions, for example how long will it take for a grant to be issued, visits the Covid-19 business pages on the website first, at cheshireeast.gov.uk/business as these pages are regularly updated with the latest information.

Support for large businesses through the Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme

The new Coronavirus Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CLBILS) will provide a government guarantee of 80% to enable banks to make loans of up to £25 million to firms with an annual turnover of between £45 million and £500 million.

This will give banks the confidence to lend to many more businesses which are impacted by coronavirus. Facilities backed by a guarantee under CLBILS will be offered at commercial rates of interest.

We expect the scheme to be delivered through commercial lenders. The government will provide lenders with an 80% guarantee on individual loans for businesses that would be otherwise unable to access the finance they need.

Lenders will still be expected to conduct their usual credit risk checks. This scheme allows lenders to specifically support businesses that were viable before the COVID-19 outbreak but now face significant cash flow difficulties that would otherwise make their business unviable in the short term.

The new scheme will launch later this month and will support a wide range of businesses to access finance products including short term loans, overdrafts, invoice finance and asset finance.

Businesses would remain responsible for repaying any facility they may takeout.

Eligibility

To be eligible, your business must:

  • be UK-based in its business activity
  • have an annual turnover between £45 million and £500 million
  • be unable to secure regular commercial financing
  • have a borrowing proposal which the lender:
    • would consider viable, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic
    • believes will enable you to trade out of any short-term to medium-term difficulty

Businesses from any sector can apply, except for the following:

  • banks and building societies
  • insurers and reinsurers (but not insurance brokers)
  • public-sector organisations, including state-funded primary and secondary schools

Further detail on eligibility will be confirmed later this month.

How to access the scheme

The new scheme will launch later this month. We anticipate it will be available through a range of accredited lenders.

Once the scheme has launched, there is likely to be a big demand for facilities - businesses should consider applying via the lender’s website in the first instance. Telephone lines are likely to be busy and branches may have limited capacity to handle enquiries due to social distancing.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/guidance-to-employers-and-businesses-about-covid-19/covid-19-support-for-businesses

UKEF expands protection against non-payment for UK exporters

UK Export Finance to offer export insurance in all major markets in response to Coronavirus (COVID-19).

UK Export Finance has today announced it is expanding the scope of its Export Insurance Policy (EXIP) to cover transactions with the EU, Australia, Canada, Iceland, Japan, New Zealand, Norway, Switzerland and the USA with immediate effect. Exports from the UK to these markets totalled £499 billion last year, accounting for 74% of all international sales from the UK.

UKEF will help companies concerned about the impact of Coronavirus to export with confidence, by offering insurance that can cover up to 95% of the value of an export contract. The insurance will protect against the risk of non-payment should UK exporters’ customers become insolvent or their government actions make fulfilling the contract impossible.

Minister for Exports, Graham Stuart MP said:

Exports play a crucial role in our economy and it’s right that UK businesses trading internationally are protected during this challenging time.

That’s why we are offering a guarantee to these businesses that they will get paid, so they can continue to export with confidence and support the UK economy.

More than 230,000 businesses exported goods and services from the UK last year and over 95% of these were SMEs.

The Coronavirus pandemic is expected to put pressure on the ability of exporters to agree payment terms, while commercial credit insurance may become harder to obtain. By insuring against non-payment with UKEF, UK suppliers will have the confidence to continue trading and can offer more flexible payment terms to overseas buyers.

UKEF extends its cover to include countries that were previously excluded from the scheme after the European Commission relaxed rules this week regarding the provision of short-term export credit insurance.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/ukef-expands-protection-against-non-payment-for-uk-exporters

Almost £400 million to keep England’s buses running

England’s buses will continue to serve those who rely on them thanks to a funding boost totalling £397 million for vital bus operators, Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has announced.

The package, agreed jointly with the bus industry, will keep key routes running to provide a lifeline for those who cannot work from home, including those travelling to jobs on the frontline of the UK’s fight against COVID-19, such as NHS staff.

New funding of up to £167 million will be paid over 12 weeks under the new COVID-19 Bus Services Support Grant. As a condition of the funding, bus operators will be required to maintain necessary services at a level which is sufficient to meet much reduced demand, but also to allow adequate space between passengers on board. This is expected to be up to 50% of normal service levels.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said:

We have been very clear during the outbreak that the best way to stop the spread of the virus and protect the NHS, is to stay at home if possible.

Our buses are a lifeline for people who need to travel for work or to buy food – including our emergency services and NHS staff – and it’s absolutely vital we do all we can to keep the sector running.

This multi-million-pound investment will protect crucial local transport links across England, bolstering the sector and minimising disruption for passengers in the long term.” 

Operators will also be required to keep passengers properly informed about revised timetables to ensure that people know which services are running and when.

The government has also promised that £200 million of existing funding under the Bus Services Operators Grant will continue to be paid as normal even though not all services may run during this time. This funding is usually paid according to fuel consumption, and so the government’s commitment to pay this on pre-COVID-19 levels will help ensure that bus companies are able to benefit despite fewer fare-paying passengers travelling.

This is in addition to up to £30 million of extra government bus funding, originally earmarked for starting new services, which will instead be paid to local authorities to maintain existing services.  

The Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, said:

It’s vital people protect our NHS by staying at home during the outbreak – but we also need to ensure that doctors, nurses and other key workers, can travel to and from their jobs.

This funding will provide a lifeline for those on the frontline as well as those who cannot work from home.

Councils have also been encouraged to maintain their existing subsidies for concessionary fares to ensure that older and disabled people can still travel when they need to, for example to reach the shops, hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.

CPT Chief Executive Graham Vidler said:

Bus operators of all sizes across the country are providing an essential service at a time of national emergency, and we thank the thousands of staff doing an incredible job to keep routes running.

This funding is designed to plug the gap between the costs of running essential routes and revenue currently being received, and will help the country through the outbreak by allowing critical journeys to continue. 

We’re pleased the government is working with us to ensure essential bus journeys can continue and will work closely with them to ensure the network remains viable.

This is the latest step in a string of urgent measures being taken forward by government to support vital public services, including emergency measures to sustain rail services as operators manage the impacts of COVID-19, and support for crucial links to different parts of the UK. 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/almost-400-million-to-keep-englands-buses-running


06/04/2020

Chancellor unveils new measures to SME loan scheme

The chancellor is extending the coronavirus loan scheme for small and medium businesses who have been affected by the disease.

The government's Covid Business Interruption Loan, a funding package, was originally created for firms who were unable to secure regular commercial financing during the economic downturn of the virus.

But now Rishi Sunak has extended CBILS to all viable small and medium business who have faced financial difficulty during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.

Since 23 March, around 1,000 loans worth around £90m have been processed.

The number is expected to increase in the coming days and weeks as banks get used to the new system.

Rates charged to firms for loans are also expected to be kept as low as possible - given that the Bank of England's base rate is at a record low of 0.1% and that the state is guaranteeing them.

However there will not be a cap on the rates banks can charge.

The issue is among those to be discussed when the chancellor holds talks with bank chief executives next week.

The chancellor also announced a new measure for bigger companies. The Covid Large Business Interruption Loan Scheme will offer loans of up to £25m to firms with an annual turnover of between £45m and £500m, also 80% guaranteed by the taxpayer.

Mr Sunak said: "We are making great progress on getting much-needed support out to businesses to help manage their cashflows during this difficult time - with millions of pounds of loans and finance being provided to hundreds of firms across the country.

"And now I am taking further action by extending our generous loan scheme so even more businesses can benefit. We have also listened to the concerns of some larger businesses affected by COVID-19 and are announcing new support so they can benefit too.

"This is a national effort and we'll continue to work with the financial services sector to ensure that the £330 billion of government support, through loans and guarantees, reaches as many businesses in need as possible."

The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.

It previously pledged to cover the first twelve months of interest and fees.

Adam Marshall, director general of the British Chamber of Commerce, praised the new measures.

He said: "We're pleased that the Chancellor is listening and responding to the real-world concerns posed by firms across the UK who are urgently trying to access financial support.

"Improvements to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme will help firms get access to cash more quickly, and the announcement of a new loan scheme for mid-sized companies closes a significant gap in existing support.

"Chambers of Commerce will continue to work with government and the banks to ensure that support reaches businesses at the front line."

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-chancellor-rishi-sunak-unveils-new-measures-to-sme-loan-scheme-11967729

£20 million for ambitious technologies to build UK resilience following coronavirus outbreak

Businesses to help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of coronavirus and similar future situations as a result of £20 million government funding.

  • Technology and R&D businesses to develop innovations that encourage new ways of working and ensure continued productivity across key UK industries
  • government boost to build resilience in the UK economy, helping to protect against long-term impacts of the coronavirus outbreak and future incidents
  • new innovations will support sectors ranging from delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport

Businesses could help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak and similar situations in the future, as a result of £20 million government funding announced today (Friday 3 April).

Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak.

Innovations could include:

  • new technology allowing retailers to respond better to sudden spikes of consumer demand and improve deliveries across the UK
  • new services for families to connect with and remotely monitor their elderly or vulnerable relatives, giving people peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving the services they require such as food deliveries, doctor’s appointments and paying bills
  • creating education tools which seamlessly integrate the classroom with the kitchen table, allowing teachers to remotely set dynamic tasks, support vulnerable children and make certain no child is left behind

Science Minister Amanda Solloway said:

The response of researchers and businesses to the coronavirus outbreak have been remarkable. This new investment will support the development of technologies that can help industries, communities and individuals adapt to new ways of working when situations like this, and other incidents, arise.

Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair Innovate UK, said:

The COVID-19 situation is not just a health emergency, but also one that affects the economy and society. With that in mind, Innovate UK has launched this rapid response competition today seeking smart ideas from innovators. These could be proposals to help the distribution of goods, educate children remotely, keep families digitally connected and even new ideas to stream music and entertainment. The UK needs a great national effort and Innovate UK is helping by unleashing the power of innovation for people and businesses in need.

The proposals will be reviewed as part of a competition launched by Innovate UK, seeking the best new ideas from businesses.

All the projects will begin by June 2020 and will last up to 6 months, with products and services expected to be available to the public towards the end of this year.

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/20-million-for-ambitious-technologies-to-build-uk-resilience-following-coronavirus-outbreak

Watch out for bogus COVID-19 ‘home-testing’ scams

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) is warning the UK public to not open their doors to illegitimate healthcare workers claiming to be offering ‘home-testing’ for the Coronavirus.

A number of households across the UK have reported suspicious callers knocking on doors claiming to be health officials doing a door-to-door COVID-19 testing. According to the reports the cold callers have mainly be targeting elderly and vulnerable residents.

The CTSI have advised the public to be extra cautious when opening their doors and have reminded everyone to continue to avoid social contact as part of the measures to help stop the spread of the Coronavirus.

This is yet another scam to have been reported as more and more criminals use the Coronavirus pandemic as an opportunity to make profit and benefit during a time when thousands across the country are vulnerable, worried and confused.

Make sure to inform your family, friends and anyone else you know who could be vulnerable to this type of scam to ensure the public are safe and protected.

Can your business produce testing kits and services?

The government is asking businesses to support the manufacture and supply of:

  • testing consumables and equipment
  • personal protective equipment (PPE) for laboratories
  • new or existing types of coronavirus tests for antigens or antibodies

This is to ensure we can increase coronavirus tests in the UK.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-tell-us-you-can-produce-testing-kits-and-services

If you can supply materials and equipment, use the first form (‘Supply materials and equipment’).

If you can supply complete testing methods, use the second form (‘Supply complete testing methods’).

Cashflow - Consider reclaiming child benefit

Individuals who have made an election to stop receiving child benefit due to the high income child benefit charge (HICBC) may wish to consider revoking the election in order to restart their claim.

 The child benefit may need to be ultimately paid back via the self assessment tax return, but it can help a little towards easing immediate cash flow concerns. The election can be revoked by completing a form online via the GOV.UK website (a Government Gateway account is necessary) or by contacting the Child Benefit Office by telephone on 0300 200 3100. The election must be revoked by the person who originally made it, which is the person who is to receive the child benefit. Child benefit will start to be paid again from the Monday following the call or receipt of the form. However, if neither partners’ adjusted net income is expected to exceed £60,000, the revocation can be backdated to the start of the tax year. See the High income child benefit tax charge ― advising the taxpayer guidance note for more details.

Off payroll working (IR35) in the private sector

As part of a broad package of measures to protect the economy from the coronavirus outbreak, the planned introduction of off payroll working in the private sector is postponed for one year from 6 April 2020 to 6 April 2021. It was stressed that this is simply a deferral and not a cancellation of the regime, but this pause will bring welcome relief to many during these uncertain times.


03/04/2020

Business Rates Relief and Related Government Support – A reminder the supports available

From 1st April businesses will start benefiting from £22 billion in the form of business rates relief. And grants of up to £25,000 which are being paid into the bank accounts of the smallest high street firms. Here is a reminder of the supports available.

BUSINESS RATES HOLIDAY FOR RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE BUSINESSES

The Government is introducing a business rates holiday for retail, hospitality and leisure businesses in England for the 2020 to 2021 tax year.

Businesses that received the retail discount in the 2019 to 2020 tax year will be rebilled by their local authority as soon as possible.

You are eligible for the business rates holiday if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector
  • Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:
    • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
    • for assembly and leisure
    • as hotels, guest & boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

How to access the scheme:

There is no action for you. This will apply to your next council tax bill in April 2020. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill automatically to exclude the business rate charge. They will do this as soon as possible.

See: https://www.gov.uk/calculate-your-business-rates where you can estimate the business rate charge you will no longer have to pay and further guidance can be found at: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/business-rates-retail-discount-guidance

CASH GRANTS FOR RETAIL, HOSPITALITY AND LEISURE BUSINESSES

 

The Retail and Hospitality Grant Scheme provides businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors with a cash grant of up to £25,000 per property. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of under £15,000, they will receive a grant of £10,000. For businesses in these sectors with a rateable value of between £15,001 and £51,000, they will receive a grant of £25,000.

You are eligible for the grant if:

  • your business is based in England
  • your business is in the retail, hospitality and/or leisure sector

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be occupied hereditaments that are wholly or mainly being used:

  • as shops, restaurants, cafes, drinking establishments, cinemas and live music venues
  • for assembly and leisure
  • as hotels, guest and boarding premises and self-catering accommodation

Accessing the scheme:

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly. Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

To find your local authority: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

SUPPORT FOR BUSINESSES THAT PAY LITTLE OR NO BUSINESS RATES

 

The government will provide additional Small Business Grant Scheme funding for local authorities to support small businesses that already pay little or no business rates because of Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR), Rural Rate Relief (RRR) and tapered relief. This will provide a one-off grant of £10,000 to eligible businesses to help meet their ongoing business costs.

You are eligible if:

  • your business is based in England
  • you are a small business and already receive SBRR and/or RRR
  • you are a business that occupies property

How to access the scheme

You do not need to do anything. Your local authority will write to you if you are eligible for this grant. Guidance for local authorities on the scheme will be provided shortly.

Any enquiries on eligibility for, or provision of, the reliefs and grants should be directed to the relevant local authority.

To find your local authority: https://www.gov.uk/find-local-council

Value of pensions and investments drop

The drop in global markets has seen the value of pensions and investments drop significantly over the past few weeks. If you are considering taking funds from your pension to support your income or provide funds at this time or if you have concerns and would like to speak to the Wealth Management Team, please contact Krystine Mayoh on 07989324580

Although these are worrying times, the drop in the markets does offer opportunity for investment into low priced funds and we would like to remind everyone that now we are in the new tax year, you are able to invest £20,000 in to an ISA and up to £40,000 in to a pension (subject to conditions – please ask for details).

Overhaul to SME loan scheme

Changes to the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme will be announced as soon as this week.

The chancellor is preparing to unveil an overhaul of his emergency aid scheme for small businesses (SMEs) amid warnings about a deluge of insolvencies as companies struggle to access funds from a banking system creaking under the COVID-19 crisis.

Sky News has learnt that Rishi Sunak will announce in the coming days that a key feature of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme - the requirement for banks to first assess whether SMEs are eligible for their other lending options - will be removed.

Mr Sunak and his officials at the Treasury are understood to have been in talks with the participating lenders, which include high street giants such as Barclays, HSBC, Lloyds Banking Group and Royal Bank of Scotland, on Wednesday.

An announcement is possible as soon as Friday, according to one insider.

The move will aim to speed up decision-making processes within the high street banks and channel loans more quickly, currently worth up to £5m, to an army of SMEs.

The Treasury has been sparked into action by myriad reports in the ten days since CBILS launched that business-owners are being denied loans through it or forced to use other standard SME loan products.

Under the revamped programme, any viable business with a turnover of up to £45m will be able to access the scheme, which is interest-free and fee-free for the first 12 months.

https://news.sky.com/story/coronavirus-sunak-to-overhaul-sme-loan-scheme-11967162

How is COVID-19 affecting the Cyber Security Industry?

As we delve deeper into the Coronavirus Pandemic, Cyber Security firms are seeing a massive increase in COVID-19 themed spoofed websites and phishing attacks.

COVID-19 has opened many doors of opportunity for cybercriminals. With the majority of the world in isolation, millions of people want to keep as up to date as possible while they’re locked away. Criminals are taking advantage of this pandemic by creating COVID-19 malicious content, and Cyber Security firms are battling to keep up.

What to look out for…

Coronavirus Related Phishing Attacks and Spoofed Websites

Cyber Security experts have seen a huge spike in COVID-19 related phishing attacks and spoofed websites. Attackers are attempting to trick users with emails offering cheap or free Coronavirus tests and providing fake ‘infection-tracking’ information. With the majority of the UK in lockdown attackers have also been creating fake daily updates purporting to be from the Government.

The phishing attacks and spoofed websites all aim to trick users into clicking malicious links or providing personal information.

Fake Financial Advice

Thousands of businesses have been forced to close across the UK during the lockdown, leaving millions of people with financial worries. Criminals have been targeting the millions of people affected by creating phishing emails and fake websites offering financial advice to trick users into clicking malicious links and providing personal information.

The UK must only be listening to financial advice from the Government, their HR teams or from trusted financial experts like Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert website.

Spear-Phishing Attacks

With businesses across the UK either temporarily closing, forcing their team to work from home or furloughing their employees during the lockdown, there has been a huge increase in communication via email which provides a great opportunity for criminals to target businesses. Purporting to be legitimate hierarchy such as the Managing Directors , HR representatives or office managers, criminals are on high alert and there has been a huge increase in email borne attacks. As always, it is critical for both the employee and the business that all emails are treated with caution as the smallest mistake could affect both you and the business. If at any time you receive a suspicious email from a member of your team, find a second way of contacting them to confirm it is legitimate.

Service Sales and Online Offers

With the entire country on lockdown, millions of people are finding themselves bored and eager for new content. Criminals have jumped at this opportunity by flooding thousands of inboxes with emails purporting to be from popular streaming services and online retailers such as Netflix, Amazon and many more.

Since the lockdown was announced, a brand-new streaming service called Disney+ has become available to the UK. The new streaming service has already soared in popularity during the pandemic with millions of people in the UK signing up in the first week. Criminals have seen this as a major opportunity to send fake emails offering free trails and cheap subscriptions in order to trick users into clicking on malicious links and entering personal information including debit or credit card information.

It is imperative that the UK handle all emails in their inboxes with caution.

Android Malware

Android users need to be wary of a brand-new malware called CovidLock making its way around thousands of devices. COVID-19 related text and WhatsApp messages have been used to spread a link to a malicious website which provides users with a download to a ‘Coronavirus Tracker’ application which promises to inform users when a potential Coronavirus carrier is within the devices’ vicinity. What the application actually does is immediately begin encrypting data on the device and threatens to delete the data unless the user pays a ransom.

This type malware is called Ransomware, similar to the WannaCry virus which infected the NHS in 2018. This malware however is not as threatening as the WannaCry virus as the writers of this malware very stupidly embedded the key required to unlock the data within the code of the virus.

If you are a victim of the CovidLock virus try entering the key: 4865083501 .

If this is not successful it is imperative you DO NOT pay the ransom. Paying the ransom does not ensure your data will be decrypted and only benefits the criminals, helping to fund their criminal organisations and their malicious campaigns.

False WhatsApp messages

WhatsApp is the most popular application in the world for communication. With millions of people crammed into groups where messages can be forwarded from chat-to-chat, criminals have seen this as a great place to spread false information and links to spoofed websites.

Hundreds of reports of fake messages claiming to be from Nurses on the frontline of the Coronavirus battle have been reported to Action Fraud. These messages have included false advice on how to protect yourself from COVID-19 and WhatsApp has been the app favourited to send these via.

What you must do…

With the majority of the UK now working from home, it is imperative that you understand the risks and know how to help protect both yourself and your business from a successful cyber-attack.

Handle all emails with caution, read them twice and double check the senders address. The smallest sense of suspicion must be handled, do not take any chances.

Use only trusted sources for COVID-19 and Coronavirus related information, Financial advice and lockdown information.

Make sure your devices are all up to date, this ensures that all of the latest security updates and patches are installed, protecting your devices and data from known malware and vulnerabilities.

For more information and guidance make sure to visit the Cyber Wise website where you can find articles on all of the latest security threats and tips on how to stay protected.

The effect of coronavirus on UK investment

With every player in the market trying to anticipate and prepare for the road ahead, flows of equity investment into private UK business have taken a hit over the past few weeks. Of course, it’s still early days and we’ll have to wait some time for the whole picture to come into focus. Unannounced fundraisings are still taking place, but there’s a delay in the availability of this data, as we wait for the filings to arrive at Companies House. 

In this post, we’ve looked at the initial figures for Q1 2020, and more specifically at the last two weeks, to see what’s happening now and what may come next.

 The data 

  • Over the course of Q1 2020 just 344 announced equity deals have been made into private UK companies. This is the lowest figure since Q3 2014 (322), and marks a 32% decrease from Q4 2019 (507).
  • Only 95 deals were announced in March 2020, which totalled £595m, compared to 174 in March 2019, which totalled £1.46b.
  • In the past week a meagre 14 rounds were announced. This is the lowest number of deals in a week outside of a Christmas period since August 2014.

The factors at play 

The impact of COVID-19 on investment patterns is nuanced, and there are a number of differing behaviours which are factoring in to the emerging trends.

An increased demand for equity investment

Many of the UK’s high-growth businesses are yet to generate any revenue, and as such rely on equity investment to fund operations. With the loss of customer footfall, the closure of properties and major disruption to normal operations, their existing runway is (in many cases) not enough to get through this pandemic. Companies that were expecting more cash in the near future may now be without, as they fail to hit the milestones necessary to receive further tranches of capital agreed in previous funding rounds. 

And whilst other businesses are able to draw on government support, startups have been left in the lurch. Many are unable to qualify for government support mechanisms such as the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS), which requires a business to “have a borrowing proposal which the lender would consider viable, were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic”. This means equity finance is in more demand than ever before.

A change in investor behaviour

More focus on existing portfolios

Almost all investors are likely to be investing less money across fewer deals for a number of reasons. Firstly, all funds – no matter the size or type – will be focusing on their current portfolio, and prioritising capital to these businesses.

Delays and withdrawals from open deals

Open deals may take longer to close, especially those which are yet to go through, or are currently going through, the due diligence process. Due diligence can take months to complete under normal circumstances, and is incredibly difficult to carry out in a remote work set up. On top of this, some funds have policies in place that will further delay the process, such as requiring a physical meeting with founders before they are willing to put pen to paper. Many deals will be delayed, paused or dropped because of this. 

There have also been reports that a disappointingly high number of VCs have been withdrawing from late stage deals, even after signing term sheets and sending letters of intent. Law firm SeedLegals has estimated that an astonishing 30% of terms sheets have been revoked in the past two weeks.

Reduced capacity or lack of interest in new deals

Many funds are still very much open to new opportunities and will be encouraged to invest whilst business is cheap, but they’ll have a reduced capacity for this and we can expect new deals to take longer to close. Meanwhile, some investors will be closing the door on new opportunities entirely and adopting a “wait and see” approach.

Mapping the different approaches of funds is difficult. Some, such as Playfair Capital and Angular Ventures have announced that they are continuing to assess new deals, but others are keeping their cards close to their chests. The proof is in the data, which we’ll start to see no sooner than 6 month’s time (the average time it takes to complete an investment).

 The road ahead 

Drawing on previous data and anecdotes from across the ecosystem, we anticipate the following trends over the coming months.

Overall number of deals completed will plummet

Investors will no doubt take a more guarded approach to risk than before, resulting in a decrease in the number of new rounds completed with seed stage funding taking the hardest hit. On top of increased risk aversion, investment processes have been significantly disrupted, causing many deals to be delayed, paused or dropped during these next few months.

Overall amount invested will decline

Although some companies will continue to secure large amounts of funding (such as Cazoo, which closed a £100m equity round last week), we expect to see a slow down in the number of megadeals completed. Because these funding rounds have become so large, just one or two deals can make a massive impact on the overall investment figures.

A larger proportion of deals will be follow-on rounds

In a continuation of a trend we’ve been seeing over the past couple of years, we’ll see investors double-down on their existing investments, and put up more capital for their struggling portfolio companies in order to help keep them above water.

There'll be a renewed focus on venture stage funding

Venture stage businesses have proven that they have a viable product or service, but are still in a risky position in normal times, let alone a pandemic. We anticipate that early stage funders that are continuing to make new investments will focus on these businesses, rather than the riskiest seed stage businesses.

Closing thoughts 

It seems an understatement to warn that there’s a lot at stake here. Along with the stagnation and loss of businesses which would otherwise have flourished were it not for the pandemic, the entrepreneurial spirit that has been so carefully nurtured across the UK is also under threat. 

As Stephen Welton, CEO of BGF recently put it, “we shouldn’t lose sight of the psychological element of all of this. If you’ve been working for ten or twenty years to build up a business and literally overnight it’s destroyed, it’s really hard for people to pick themselves up again and say, ‘Well, I’ll do the next ten years just to get back to where I’ve just come from’”. 

As such, investment into the UK’s high-growth companies must continue. Over the coming months we hope to see all types of investors, as well the Government, be brave in their steps to save this important segment of the UK’s economy.

https://about.beauhurst.com/blog/effect-of-coronavirus-uk-investment-q1-2020/


02/04/2020

GDPR and Covid-19: ICO publishes guidance

Whilst the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is probably the last thing on the mind of business leaders during these extraordinary times of the worldwide Covid-19 pandemic, it should not be completely forgotten given the seismic shift to homeworking.

With significant advances in technology working remotely from the office, whether that be from home or on the go, has never been easier. However, with remote working involving data being transferred over external networks (rather than simply moved between your desktop computer and the server down the corridor) and potentially employees taking personal data home with them (for example hard copy work files) the rules under GDPR still apply but are less easy to monitor and control than in an office based environment.

This means employees need to continue to keep data (including hard copy paper files) safe and secure such that they can’t be accessed by third parties. Employers also need to consider how employees are accessing work information and whether that involves a footprint of data being left on the employees own device at home or mobile device and how that is controlled.

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), based in Wilmslow, has now issued some specific Covid-19 guidance to organisations. This can be accessed here https://ico.org.uk/about-the-ico/news-and-events/news-and-blogs/2020/03/covid-19-general-data-protection-advice-for-data-controllers/

Whilst a large part of the guidance focuses on health data and public messaging around Covid-19 (including what you should and should not communicate to your employees if you have a staff member diagnosed with Covid-19) there is some reassurance for businesses/data controllers in that the ICO acknowledges that “resources, whether they are finances or people, might be diverted away from usual compliance or information governance work” and that the ICO won’t “penalise organisations that [the ICO] knows need to prioritise other areas or adapt their usual approach during this extraordinary period”.

The ICO also goes on to state that it “can’t extend statutory timescales, but [the ICO] will tell people through its communication channels that they may experience understandable delays when making information rights requests during the pandemic”. As such businesses should remember the one month statutory timescale for responding to subject access requests still applies (bearing in mind the possibility of extending this to 3 months in certain circumstances), the fact that the regulator acknowledges there will be delays is something businesses will be relieved to hear during a time where businesses are adapting on a daily basis to new demands and challenges in these unprecedented times.

https://marketingstockport.co.uk/news/gdpr-and-covid-19-ico-publishes-guidance/

Economic Insights

IBISWorld expects Real GDP Growth to slow to 0.7% during 2019-20 previously 1.4%. Slowest rate of growth since the financial crisis.

Coronavirus is expected to compound the uncertainty regarding the terms of Brexit. Exports are expected to be impacted significantly and could outweigh the government’s increase in export finance.

IBISWorld has downgraded expectation for exports, household consumption and business investment.

UK Government budget spending increased for FY20 with at least £32 billion in spending and £330 billion in government backed lending related to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Consumer confidence is expected to decline during 2019-20 to 90.6 index points in response to COVID-19 and could fall further in 2020-21 depending on longevity of on-going disruption.

Bank of England (BoE) Base Rate

The BoE reduced on 19th March to 0.1%. Factors influencing this decision include; keeping inflation below 2%, low consumer confidence and also COVID-19. There is limited scope for BoE to reduce the base rate further but have indicated that there is potential to stimulate the economy further if required. As we approach December 31st 2020, IBISWorld expects monetary policy to be focussed on Brexit dependant upon the severity of the on-going crisis.

Quantitative bond purchasing measures increased by £200 billion.

Oil Prices

COVID-19 has heavily impacted the price of oil together with a lack of OPEC price agreements which led to an oversupply. The price of Brent Crude oil has reduced from approximately US$60 in mid-February to US$30 mid-March. Supply levels and price will be dependent on the OPEC agreements.

Most affected industries; Petroleum refining in the UK, Organic Basic Chemical Manufacturing, Crude Petroleum & Natural Gas Extraction.

Financial Sector

The Financial sector in the UK contributes approximately 7% of GDP.

General insurance is expected to face increased claim cost over the coming months. Association of British Insurers have said that the majority of businesses will not be able to claim against the insurance as Coronavirus is not likely to be listed, even if the business does have infectious disease insurance. Additionally, most policies will not cover forced closure by the government as this is meant to cover damage to premises such as fire and flooding.

Some insurers have stopped offering travel insurance that covers Coronavirus related claims as they are unable to assess the costs involved.

Pension funds have been affected, especially those with a defined benefit structures as sponsoring firms have started to face liquidity and cash flow issues, resulting in requests for delayed payment.

Defined contribution pension schemes are feeling the squeeze as bond prices have increased whilst simultaneously facing falling asset prices as seen in the FTSE 100.

Auxiliary financial services such as accounting, tax consultants and actuarial consultants are likely to feel to effects of COVID-19 in a delayed manner.

Tourism

Expected to be the one of the most affected industries as travel bans hinder international travel. Rishi Sunak pointed out that this sector is facing particularly acute challenges with significantly less inbound and outbound tourism.

Decline is driven by weak consumer confidence, travel bans and government advice to avoid non-essential travel due to COVID-19. During 2020-21, a decline of 4.8% is expected to occur as both domestic and international tourists recover. This is likely to have a direct impact on Airlines, Accommodation providers and Travel agencies. As an indirect impact, Restaurants,

Cultural heritage sites/tourist attractions and Local transport services are likely to be affected.

However, an increase in tourist numbers is expected in the second half of 2020-21 as travel bans are lifted and confidence in international travel increases.

Grant Funding Schemes update

Small Business Grant Fund / Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund guidance for business

In response to the Coronavirus, Covid-19, the Government announced there would be support for small businesses, and businesses in the retail, hospitality and leisure sectors.

This support will take the form of two grant funding schemes, the Small Business Grant Fund and the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Fund.

The schemes will be delivered by Local Authorities – if you are eligible, your Local Authority will be in touch with you to arrange payment.

Businesses seeking information should refer to the Government’s business support website: https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/

How will the grants be provided?

Central Government will provide funding to Local Authorities that are responsible for business rate billing. Those Local Authorities will contact eligible businesses to arrange payment of the grants, however lots of them are asking businesses to register their bank details for the bacs payment, specifically Stockport, Cheshire East, Manchester and Trafford.

How much funding will be provided to businesses?

Under the Small Business Grant Fund (SBGF) all eligible businesses in England in receipt of either Small Business Rates Relief (SBRR) or Rural Rates Relief (RRR) in the business rates system will be eligible for a payment of £10,000.

Under the Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant (RHLG) eligible businesses in England in receipt of the Expanded Retail Discount (which covers retail, hospitality and leisure) with a rateable value of less than £51,000 will be eligible for a cash grants of £10,000 or £25,000 per property.

Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of up to and including £15,000 will receive a grant of £10,000.

Eligible businesses in these sectors with a property that has a rateable value of over £15,000 and less than £51,000 will receive a grant of £25,000.

Businesses with a rateable value of £51,000 or over are not eligible for this scheme.

Businesses which are not ratepayers in the business rates system are not included in this scheme.

Who is eligible for these schemes?

Small Business Grant Fund Eligibility

Businesses with a property that on the 11 March 2020 were eligible for Small Business Rate Relief (SBRR) Scheme (including those with a Rateable Value between £12,000 and £15,000 which receive tapered relief).

Businesses which on 11 March 2020 were eligible for relief under the Rural Rate Relief Scheme are also eligible for this scheme.

Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property. Exclusions to Small Business Grant Fund

You cannot get SBGF for:

  • Properties occupied for personal uses, such as private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.
  • Car parks and parking spaces.

Businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquation or were dissolved will not be eligible.

Retail, Hospitality and Leisure Grant Eligibility

Properties which on the 11 March 2020 had a rateable value of less than £51,000 and would have been eligible for a discount under the business rates Expanded Retail Discount Scheme had that scheme been in force are eligible for the grant. Charities which would otherwise meet this criteria but whose bill for 11 March had been reduced to nil by a local discretionary award should still be considered to be eligible for the RHL grant.

Recipients will receive one grant per eligible property.

Exclusions to RHLG

You cannot get RHLG for:

  • Properties occupied for personal uses, such as private stables and loose boxes, beach huts and moorings.
  • Car parks and parking spaces.
  • Properties with a rateable value of £51,000 or over.

Businesses which as of the 11 March were in liquation or were dissolved will not be eligible.20.Eligible recipients will receive one grant per property. Recipients cannot receive both SBGF and RHLG on the same property.

Who will receive this funding?

The person who according to the billing authority’s records was the ratepayer for the property on the 11 March 2020.

Where the Local Authority has reason to believe that the information that they hold about the ratepayer on the 11 March 2020 is inaccurate they may withhold or recover the grant and take reasonable steps to identify the correct ratepayer. The grant is for the ratepayer and any money paid may be liable for recovery if the recipient was not the ratepayer on the eligible day.

Landlord and management agents are urged to support local government in quickly identifying the correct ratepayer.

Managing the risk of fraud

The Government will not accept deliberate manipulation and fraud - and any business caught falsifying their records to gain additional grant money will face prosecution and any funding issued will be subject to claw back, as may any grants paid in error.

Rating List Changes

No changes made to the business’s rateable value or rating assessment after 11 March 2020 will be accepted for the purposes of determining eligibility.

In cases where there are clear errors on the rating list on 11 March 2020, Local Authorities may, at their discretion, withhold the grant and/or award the grant based on their view of which businesses would have been entitled.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-on-business-support-grant-funding

Construction Sector: Site Operating Procedures – Protecting Your Workforce

Construction sites operating during the Coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic need to ensure they are protecting their workforce and minimising the risk of spread of infection.

This guidance is intended to introduce consistent measures on sites of all sizes in line with the Government’s recommendations on social distancing.

These are exceptional circumstances and the industry must comply with the latest Government advice on Coronavirus at all times.

The health and safety requirements of any construction activity must also not be compromised at this time. If an activity cannot be undertaken safely due to a lack of suitably qualified personnel being available or social distancing being implemented, it should not take place.

We are aware that emergency services are also under great pressure and may not be in a position to respond as quickly as usual.

Sites should remind the workforce at every opportunity of the Site Operating Procedures which are aimed at protecting them, their colleagues, their families and the UK population.

If a site is not consistently implementing the measures set out below, it may be required to shut down.

Self-Isolation

Anyone who meets one of the following criteria should not come to site:

  • Has a high temperature or a new persistent cough - follow the guidance on self-isolation
  • Is a vulnerable person (by virtue of their age, underlying health condition, clinical condition or are pregnant)
  • Is living with someone in self-isolation or a vulnerable person.

Procedure if Someone Falls Ill

If a worker develops a high temperature or a persistent cough while at work, they should:

  • Return home immediately
  • Avoid touching anything
  • Cough or sneeze into a tissue and put it in a bin, or if they do not have tissues, cough and sneeze into the crook of their elbow.

They must then follow the guidance on self-isolation and not return to work until their period of self-isolation has been completed.

Travel to Site

Wherever possible workers should travel to site alone using their own transport and sites need to consider:

  • Parking arrangements for additional cars and bicycles
  • Other means of transport to avoid public transport e.g. cycling
  • Providing hand cleaning facilities at entrances and exits. This should be soap and water wherever possible or hand sanitiser if water is not available
  • How someone taken ill would get home.

Site Access Points

  • Stop all non-essential visitors
  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Monitor site access points to enable social distancing – you may need to change the number of access points, either increase to reduce congestion or decrease to enable monitoring
  • Remove or disable entry systems that require skin contact e.g. fingerprint scanners
  • Require all workers to wash or clean their hands before entering or leaving the site
  • Allow plenty of space (two metres) between people waiting to enter site
  • Regularly clean common contact surfaces in reception, office, access control and delivery areas e.g. scanners, turnstiles, screens, telephone handsets, desks, particularly during peak flow times
  • Reduce the number of people in attendance at site inductions and consider holding them outdoors wherever possible
  • Drivers should remain in their vehicles if the load will allow it and must wash or clean their hands before unloading goods and materials.

Hand Washing

  • Provide additional hand washing facilities to the usual welfare facilities if a large spread out site or significant numbers of personnel on site
  • Ensure soap and fresh water is readily available and kept topped up at all times
  • Provide hand sanitiser where hand washing facilities are unavailable
  • Regularly clean the hand washing facilities and check soap and sanitiser levels
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Sites will need extra supplies of soap, hand sanitiser and paper towels and these should be securely stored.

Toilet Facilities

  • Restrict the number of people using toilet facilities at any one time e.g. use a welfare attendant
  • Wash hands before and after using the facilities
  • Enhance the cleaning regimes for toilet facilities particularly door handles, locks and the toilet flush
  • Portable toilets should be avoided wherever possible, but where in use these should be cleaned and emptied more frequently
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins for hand towels with regular removal and disposal.

Canteens and Eating Arrangements

With cafés and restaurants having been closed across the UK, canteens cannot operate as normal.

Whilst there is a requirement for construction sites to provide a means of heating food and making hot drinks, these are exceptional circumstances and where it is not possible to introduce a means of keeping equipment clean between use, kettles, microwaves etc. must be removed from use.

The workforce should also be required to stay on site once they have entered it and not use local shops.

  • Dedicated eating areas should be identified on site to reduce food waste and contamination
  • Break times should be staggered to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Hand cleaning facilities or hand sanitiser should be available at the entrance of any room where people eat and should be used by workers when entering and leaving the area
  • The workforce should be asked to bring pre-prepared meals and refillable drinking bottles from home
  • Workers should sit 2 metres apart from each other whilst eating and avoid all contact
  • Where catering is provided on site, it should provide pre-prepared and wrapped food only
  • Payments should be taken by contactless card wherever possible
  • Crockery, eating utensils, cups etc. should not be used
  • Drinking water should be provided with enhanced cleaning measures of the tap mechanism introduced
  • Tables should be cleaned between each use
  • All rubbish should be put straight in the bin and not left for someone else to clear up
  • All areas used for eating must be thoroughly cleaned at the end of each break and shift, including chairs, door handles, vending machines and payment devices.

Changing Facilities, Showers and Drying Rooms

  • Introduce staggered start and finish times to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Introduce enhanced cleaning of all facilities throughout the day and at the end of each day
  • Consider increasing the number or size of facilities available on site if possible
  • Based on the size of each facility, determine how many people can use it at any one time to maintain a distance of two metres
  • Provide suitable and sufficient rubbish bins in these areas with regular removal and disposal.

Avoiding Close Working

There will be situations where it is not possible or safe for workers to distance themselves from each other by 2 metres.

General Principles

  • Non-essential physical work that requires close contact between workers should not be carried out
  • Work requiring skin to skin contact should not be carried out
  • Plan all other work to minimise contact between workers
  • Re-usable PPE should be thoroughly cleaned after use and not shared between workers
  • Single use PPE should be disposed of so that it cannot be reused
  • Stairs should be used in preference to lifts or hoists
  • Where lifts or hoists must be used:
  • Lower their capacity to reduce congestion and contact at all times
  • Regularly clean touchpoints, doors, buttons etc.
  • Increase ventilation in enclosed spaces
  • Regularly clean the inside of vehicle cabs and between use by different operators.

Site Meetings

  • Only absolutely necessary meeting participants should attend
  • Attendees should be two metres apart from each other
  • Rooms should be well ventilated / windows opened to allow fresh air circulation
  • Consider holding meetings in open areas where possible.

Cleaning

Enhanced cleaning procedures should be in place across the site, particularly in communal areas and at touch points including:

  • Taps and washing facilities
  • Toilet flush and seats
  • Door handles and push plates
  • Hand rails on staircases and corridors
  • Lift and hoist controls
  • Machinery and equipment controls
  • Food preparation and eating surfaces
  • Telephone equipment
  • Key boards, photocopiers and other office equipment
  • Rubbish collection and storage points should be increased and emptied regularly throughout and at the end of each day.

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-letter-to-the-construction-sector

Carry over of annual leave

The government have introduced a temporary new law to deal with coronavirus disruption. A temporary amend to the Working Time Regulations was made.

What is the amendment to the law?

All employers are subject to the Working Time Regulations 1998, and thus will be subject to the changes in the Working Time (Coronavirus) (Amendment) Regulations 2020.

This means that any employees and workers can carry over up to 4 weeks’ paid holiday over a 2-year period, if they cannot take holiday due to coronavirus.

Who is eligible?

This applies to all employees and workers’ but does not apply to the self-employed.

In what circumstances should the carry-over of annual leave be granted?

Carry over of annual leave, will be granted for the following reasons:

  • An employee has been self-isolating or is too sick to take annual leave before the end of their holiday leave year;
  • An employee has been temporarily sent home as there’s no work (‘laid off’ or ‘put on furlough’);
  • An employee had to continue working due to the increased pressure and workload created as a result of the coronavirus and could not take paid annual leave.

Does this mean that an employee, who can no longer go abroad due to the travel ban, can cancel their holiday and carry it over?

If there is no business need for the employee to be in work, then there is no need to cancel the booked annual leave. They should take this as planned, but at home instead of abroad. 

There is no obligation to accept the request to cancel annual leave. Of course, businesses can use their discretion, and may allow the employee to cancel their holiday and continue to work – therefore carrying this annual leave over.

What happens to the upcoming bank holidays?

If an employee is unable to take any of the bank holidays due to being furloughed, the entitlement should be rolled over, and these should be used over the next 2 years.

Can we pay employees for annual leave and bank holidays not taken?

There is an obligation on an employer to ensure that their workers have adequate opportunity to take their annual leave. Annual leave cannot be replaced with a payment in lieu unless the worker is leaving employment. 

Can I force employees to take annual leave?

If there is a clause in your contracts of employment that allows for this, then yes. However, if not, or you wish to enforce the taking of annual leave, over and above the provision in the contracts, then you are required to give two days' notice for every day you want them to take. i.e. you want an employee to take 5 days annual leave. You must give them 10 days’ notice.

What happens if an employee leaves, before the 2-year period?

If an employee or worker leaves their job or is dismissed during the 2-year period, any untaken paid holiday must be added to their final pay (‘paid in lieu’). 

Do employees accrue annual leave when furloughed?

Yes, accrual of annual leave continues.

How Hallidays HR can help

If you would like to discuss any of the above in more detail, then please do not hesitate to contact us on 0161 476 8276 or email hr@hallidays.co.uk.


01/04/2020

National living wage rises by 6.2%

A 6.2% increase in the national living wage came into effect on Wednesday 1st April.

The increase was announced at the end of last year and was heralded by the government as "the biggest cash increase ever".

The rise is more than three times the rate of inflation and takes hourly pay for people aged 25 and over to £8.72.

It has been welcomed by unions and comes as many workers across the country are on reduced pay because of the coronavirus lockdown.

The government's coronavirus job retention scheme means employers can claim for 80% of wages in order to keep staff employed.

Union leaders said the increase was well deserved as many key workers such as carers and agricultural and shop workers are on minimum wage rates.

"Britain is indebted to its army of minimum wage heroes," said TUC General Secretary Frances O'Grady.

"Many - including care workers and supermarket staff - are currently on the frontline of the battle against coronavirus. They deserve every penny of this increase, and more."

The national living wage is the government-mandated minimum wage for people 25 and over. The minimum wage for under-25s will also rise.

From Wednesday 1st April, the new rates are:

  • The National Living Wage for ages 25 and above - up 6.2% to £8.72
  • The National Minimum Wage for 21 to 24-year-olds - up 6.5% to £8.20
  • For 18 to 20-year-olds - up 4.9% to £6.45
  • For under-18s - up 4.6% to £4.55
  • For apprentices - up 6.4% to £4.15

Employers often worry that a higher minimum wage will lead to more unemployment as they will be forced to lay off workers in order to afford the increases.

But an independent report published last year said there has been little or no evidence of job losses as a result of rising minimum wage levels.

"Employment costs have surged in recent years and are cited as the number one cause of rising outgoings among small employers," said Mike Cherry, national chairman for the Federation of Small Businesses.

But he said a policy to reduce the National Insurance contributions that firms are required to pay, which was announced in the Budget, will help small businesses foot the bill for the wage increase.

That policy is one of a raft of changes to come into force on 1st April.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52111634

Business Rates Holiday for Nurseries

What is it?

Nurseries in England* do not have to pay business rates for the 2020-21 tax year.

Am I eligible?

Properties that will benefit from the relief will be those occupied by providers on Ofsted’s Early Years Register and are wholly or mainly used for the provision of the Early Years Foundation Stage.

How do I access it?

  1. There is no action for you. Local authorities will apply the business rates holiday to your bills. For more information pleasecheck the guidance on gov.uk.
  2. You can estimate the business rate charge using thebusiness rates calculator.
  3. To find your local authority, you can use thissearch tool.

When can I access it?

This will apply to your business rates bills for the 2020-21 tax year. However, local authorities may have to reissue your bill. They will do this as soon as possible.

*Some aspects of business support are devolved. For business support outside of England go to ScotlandWales and Northern Ireland.

https://www.businesssupport.gov.uk/business-rates-holiday-for-nurseries/

UK mortgage market goes into lockdown

Have you been thinking about getting a mortgage? You're going to need to think again as lenders are scrapping their home loan deals. On Tuesday, Nationwide - one of the UK's biggest lenders - effectively pulled out of new deals. Others are doing the same as the home mortgage market goes into lockdown amid the coronavirus which has brought the economy to a virtual standstill.

Nationwide will now only offer home loans to those with 25% equity or more.

It rules out first-time borrowers or existing homeowners with little equity in their home.

Nationwide said the change will not impact existing applications.

In fact it will allow it to "focus on supporting existing mortgage members, while continuing to process ongoing applications", it said.

What are lenders doing?

Nationwide blamed "an extremely high number of enquiries about existing mortgages and ongoing applications".

"That is why we have taken this decision on a temporary basis although, by continuing to offer home loans up to 75% LTV [loan to value], we can continue supporting the housing market," it said.

Other lenders that have taken similar action include Santander and Skipton Building Society but many have gone further, by reducing the loan-to-value ratio to 60%.

That means borrowers will need a 40% deposit or equity in their home to be able to get a mortgage.

Lenders that have done this include Barclays, Halifax, Virgin Money and The Family Building Society, while the Coventry Building Society has cut its LTV ratio to 65%.

What's going on?

"The recent withdrawal of many higher LTV mortgage products and home purchase products is hopefully a temporary measure while lenders reassess risk in this area of the market and work out what it will be possible for them to offer while the current restrictions are in place," said Eleanor Williams, finance Expert at Moneyfacts.co.uk.

"With so much uncertainty at the moment, providers seem to initially be focusing on the support that their existing customers may need in the coming weeks."

Chris Sykes, mortgage consultant at broker Private Finance, reckons there are good reasons for the changes.

"Lenders are having to work at a lower capacity because of staff being off and having to deal with thousands of calls for mortgage payment holidays," he said.

"So they don't really have the capacity to do a lot of new mortgages right now. If they are going to do any, they want high-quality low-risk mortgages."

It is also worth bearing in mind that valuers cannot get out to see properties right now which will affect more complex property purchases, he added.

"Lower loan-to-value loans means there's more likeliness of an online or automated valuation," he said.

What if I've already agreed a mortgage?

That won't be affected. Lenders say they will carry on with home loans already agreed.

Nationwide said: "Existing applications, where a product has already been reserved, will continue to progress."

For people who've already made offers but who may have been affected by Covid-19, lenders are offering extra protection for people.

They will give customers who have exchanged contracts the option to extend their mortgage offer for up to three months to allow them to move at a later date.

"Lenders and borrowers face an unprecedented set of circumstances," said Robin Fieth, chief executive of the Building Societies Association.

He pointed out that people who would have been preparing and expecting to move house in the coming weeks now face a wait until Covid-19 restrictions can be lifted.

He said: "Our hearts go out to them and our heads are clear that it would be unfair for these people to have to start their mortgage application all over again once life returns to a more normal state.

"A three-month extension of existing mortgage offers seems a fair and reasonable step to take."

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52106119

Treasury trebles spending plans to fund rescue

The Treasury has trebled its Budget plans to raise cash from markets in April as part of an "exceptional revision" to fund interventions to support the economy through the pandemic.

The Debt Management Office, which raises cash for the Treasury, announced it would seek to raise £45bn in April - record cash issuance of UK government bonds, known as gilts - compared with an anticipated figure of £16bn at the time of the Budget earlier this month.

The government will now be raising money by auctioning its gilts 18 times in April, a significant increase.

The chancellor has already made clear that the biggest single support scheme - the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme - will start to pay out at the end of April. The government has also delayed various taxes that would normally have been paid by businesses.

Former Bank of England deputy governor and member of the Office for Budget Responsibility Sir Charles Bean has said that the government's borrowing could be on course for the same level as during the financial crisis, particularly if take up of the job scheme is higher or it is needed for longer.

"Together with the costs of the measures, the budget deficit could easily top £200bn this year according to the Institute for Fiscal Studies. That is nearly 10% of GDP, the same level reached in the Great Recession," Sir Charles wrote on Monday.

Unusually for an economist who spent 13 years on the Bank's Monetary Policy Committee, Sir Charles said that in these emergency circumstances it would be "entirely appropriate for the Bank of England to help out by buying some of the [government debt] - directly from the government in the primary market, should that prove necessary".

The Bank is keeping that option under review for now, but has started buying £200bn of bonds on financial markets as part of its programme of "asset purchases" also known as "quantitative easing" which restarted earlier this month.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-52106253

Department for International Trade (DIT) guidance for UK Businesses trading internationally.

This advice is for UK businesses that export or deliver goods and services abroad and have been impacted by the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). It includes:

  • DIT support for UK business trading internationally
  • financial support for business trading internationally

DIT can support businesses by:

  • providing assistance with customs authorities to ensure smooth clearance of their products
  • offering advice on intellectual property and other issues with business continuity
  • British businesses that may face disruption due to the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19) can visit the dedicated business support website for more information.

Please see: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses/coronavirus-covid-19-guidance-for-uk-businesses-trading-internationally


31/03/20

Designing a coronavirus crisis/contingency plan

Now more than ever, it is important for businesses to have a crisis/contingency plan in place to avoid going into panic mode or being in denial about your financial situation. A crisis or contingency plan is a great resource to have so that you can have a clear picture of your existing situation and allows you to take back control through actions you can take.